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Impacts of the landslide in Enga Province, Papua New Guinea. Photo: Sr John Mary, Catholic Diocese of Wabag.

Papua New Guinea Landslide Disaster

Hundreds are feared dead and thousands displaced after a devastating landslide struck a remote village in Papua New Guinea.

Papua New Guinea Landslide Disaster

Hundreds are feared dead and thousands displaced after a devastating landslide struck a remote village in Papua New Guinea.

 

  • Remote communities in Papua New Guinea have been devastated by a catastrophic landslide that struck the Enga province at 3am on 24th May.
  • The timing of the landslide meant most people were sleeping at the time of the disaster, with little time to escape
  • Hundreds are feared dead, with the United Nations estimating that at least 670 people may have lost their lives.
  • The total population of the entire affected ward is near 4,000 people, but this number could be higher due to an increased number of displaced people living in the area in recent times. 

 

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Impacts of the landslide in Enga Province, Papua New Guinea. Photo: Sr John Mary, Catholic Diocese of Wabag.

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The ongoing search and rescue operations are facing challenges due to the hazardous terrain and the continuous threat of landslides, resulting in slower progress. The affected area remains highly unstable, which is hampering search and rescue efforts. As rescue efforts continue, those who have lost their homes will urgently need food, shelter and clean water in the weeks and months ahead. 

Your generous donation today means our partners in Papua New Guinea can respond quickly to support vulnerable communities during this crisis.

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A woman holds her baby following the Enga landslide. Photo: Sr John Mary/Wabag Diocese

Why is Papua New Guinea vulnerable to landslides?

This is not the first fatal landslide in Papua New Guinea this year. At least 21 people died in three separate landslides across the country in mid-March and another 14 people lost their lives in April.

Papua New Guinea is vulnerable to various natural disasters due to its geographical location, topography, and climate. The country's mountainous terrain and heavy rainfall patterns make it susceptible to landslides and mudslides, particularly in areas with deforestation and soil erosion.

The country experiences frequent seismic activity, with earthquakes of varying magnitudes occurring regularly. PNG is situated in the path of tropical cyclones which bring strong winds, heavy rainfall, storm surges, and flooding, causing widespread damage to infrastructure and displacement of communities. Intense rainfall events can saturate soil, reducing its stability and increasing the risk of landslides, especially on slopes with poor drainage or vegetation cover.

The impacts of climate change, including rising temperatures, sea level rise, and altered precipitation patterns, further exacerbate the country's vulnerability to natural disasters. These changes can intensify the frequency and severity of extreme weather events.

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How is Caritas Australia responding to the Papua New Guinea landslide?

Our partners on-the-ground in Papua New Guinea are currently conducting a rapid needs assessment in the affected villages to determine the most urgent priorities.

The recovery is expected to be long, and food, shelter and clean water are amongst the most urgent needs for people who have lost their homes because of the landslide.

Your generous donation today means our partners can respond quickly and efficiently to support vulnerable communities during this crisis.

We are hearing distressing stories about villagers digging through the debris with their bare hands trying to find their relatives’ remains. The affected communities are asking for spades and shovels to help with the digging. Given that the landslide happened in the middle of the night, it is unfathomable to imagine what it must be like for families who have lost their loved ones without warning and are now scrambling to find their remains for a proper burial.

Jessica Stone

Caritas Australia’s Humanitarian Emergencies Coordinator

As a member of the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID), Caritas Australia is committed and fully adhere to the ACFID Code of Conduct, conducting our work with transparency, accountability and integrity. Find out more about ACFID Code of Conduct for Emergency Appeals.

 

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