Papua New Guinea Leader Visits Landslide-Hit Community, Pledges Support

SYDNEY – Papua New Guinea (PNG) Prime Minister James Marape on Friday visited a remote village devastated by a deadly landslide last week, expressing gratitude to international aid donors for their support.

Prime Minister Marape made his first visit to the Yambali village in the Enga region, where officials are still determining the number of people buried under parts of a collapsed mountain. The PNG government estimates that more than 2,000 people may have been buried alive, while a U.N. estimate puts the death toll at around 670.

“I’m sorry,” Marape said to the residents, apologizing for not visiting earlier, as reported by The Papua New Guinea Post Courier. “The country is with you in your time of sorrow.” Marape has pledged 20 million Kina ($5.1 million) for emergency response and initial recovery measures. He also inspected the disaster site by helicopter, according to the United Nations migration agency.

Efforts to deliver heavy equipment and aid have been hampered by treacherous terrain and tribal unrest in the area. As of Thursday, PNG government officials had ruled out finding survivors and announced a shift in focus to recovering bodies.

The U.N. migration agency reported that the disaster site will be quarantined by PNG authorities after 14 days to prevent the spread of diseases from decaying bodies. Water flowing under the debris has contaminated the village’s water sources, and those who remain undiscovered will be declared missing.

The international community continues to provide crucial support as PNG grapples with the aftermath of this tragic event.