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Australia to send aid to Papua New Guinea landslide recovery

Technical experts will be sent to Papua New Guinea as part of an aid package with the assistance of the Australian Defence Force.

Australia will provide a $2.5 million aid package to Papua New Guinea (PNG) where more than 2,000 people have been buried by a landslide.

The landslide occurred on Friday in the remote Enga Province where the treacherous terrain and geological instability is impacting rescue efforts.

About 1,500 people have been displaced and the number of people thought to have been buried under the landslide has significantly increased since earlier estimates.

The United Nations (UN) migration agency said PNG authorities are focusing on improving access to villages and removing debris, but this has been made difficult by water continuing to flow under the debris.

Aid group CARE Internation Papua New Guinea director, Justine McMahon told The Guardian that rescue efforts will have to be done by hand if the land doesn’t stabilise as “many of the houses are buried under eight metres of dirt”.

“The vast majority of houses are made out of bush materials so they’re not strong [enough] to withstand a small landslide, let alone something of this scale,” she said.

As part of the aid package, Australia will send technical experts, incident management assistance, support geo-hazard assessments, and help early recovery support with the assistance of the Australian Defence Force.

Minister for Emergency Management Murray Watt told ABC radio that technical experts will hopefully fly to PNG as early as this afternoon to help aid efforts.

“Their role will be particularly helping perform geotechnical surveillance to establish the level of the landslip, the instability of the land, they’re obviously doing some work around identifying where bodies are, that kind of thing,” he said.

“It’s pretty grim and grisly work, but work that has to be done.”


Photo: Landslide by caleb_liaw is available HERE and is used under a Creative Commons Licence. This image has not been modified.

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