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Papua New Guinea says more than 2,000 people buried in landslide


 , Updated 20:38, 27-May-2024

Papua New Guinea's massive landslide three days ago buried more than 2,000 people, the government said on Monday, as treacherous terrain and difficulties transporting aid lowered hopes of finding survivors.

The National Disaster Centre gave the new number in a letter to the UN released on Monday but dated Sunday. A separate UN agency put the possible death toll at more than 670 people.

The variance reflects the remote site and the difficulty of getting an accurate population estimate. PNG's last credible census was in 2000 and many people live in isolated mountainous villages on the Pacific island nation.

The landslide crashed through six villages in the Maip-Mulitaka district in the country's north at around 3 a.m. on Friday while most of the community slept. More than 150 houses were buried beneath debris almost two stories high. Rescuers told local media they heard screams from beneath the earth.

More than 72 hours after the landslide, residents are still using spades, sticks and their bare hands to try and shift the debris and reach any survivors. Only seven bodies have been found so far.

Villagers held a funeral on Monday for one of the bodies. Tens of mourners walked in a procession behind the coffin wailing and weeping, according to a video shot by an UN official.

(With input from Reuters)

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