Published: 13:32, May 24, 2024 | Updated: 18:51, May 24, 2024
Hundreds feared dead after landslide hits remote PNG village
By Reuters
People gather at the site of a landslide in Maip Mulitaka in Papua New Guinea's Enga province on May 24, 2024. (PHOTO / AFP)

SYDNEY – Hundreds are feared dead after a massive landslide flattened dozens of homes and buried families alive in a remote village in northern Papua New Guinea early on Friday, a resident said.

More than 50 homes, many with people still asleep inside, were buried when the landslide hit Kaokalam village around 3 am, villager Ninga Role told Reuters by phone. The death toll was nearly 300, among them his brother and cousin, he said.

READ MORE: Flights canceled, residents to evacuate as PNG volcano erupts

The Australian Broadcasting Corp and other local media reported that more than 100 people had been killed.

Social media footage showed people clambering over rocks, uprooted trees and mounds of dirt searching for survivors

One man who turned back to try to save his two children was buried along with his extended family, Role said.

Social media footage posted by Role showed people clambering over rocks, uprooted trees and mounds of dirt searching for survivors. Women can be heard weeping in the background.

"It's very impossible, the area covered by the landslide is large and there are rocks and trees everywhere," Role said.

"It's very difficult to get them out."

The village is in Enga province, about 600 km north of the capital Port Moresby.

Prime Minister James Marape said in a statement he had yet to be fully briefed but that authorities were responding to the disaster.

A general view shows the site of a landslide in Maip Mulitaka in Papua New Guinea on May 24, 2024. (PHOTO / AFP)

"We are sending in disaster officials, PNG Defence Force, and the Department of Works and Highways to meet provincial and district officials in Enga and also start relief work, recovery of bodies, and reconstruction of infrastructure," Marape said.

"I will release further information as I am fully briefed on the scale of destruction and loss of lives."

READ MORE: Quiet streets, fuel lines after PNG declares emergency

PNG police did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The landslide hit a section of highway near the Porgera gold mine.

A spokesperson said it was too soon to know whether there had been any damage to the mine, which had enough supplies to operate normally in the short term.