Landslide in Papua New Guinea Buries Thousands as Rescuers Struggle To Save Lives

May 31, 2024

Rescue crews on the island nation of Papua New Guinea are searching for survivors of a landslide. Government officials say it has killed at least 2,000 people. The Pacific Ocean island is home to treacherous mountain terrain. And this is blocking rescue efforts.

More than three days after the first landslide, rescue crews were still using shovels, spades, and their bare hands to try to dig people out of the mud and other debris, Reuters said. The island government says thousands are presumed dead in the remote villages. Yet, only five bodies have been found, officials told the United Nations. 

Hundreds of houses are beneath the debris. It ascends two stories high. Rescue workers report hearing screams from inside the debris.

"I have 18 of my family members being buried under the debris and soil that I am standing on," resident Evit Kambu told Reuters. Kambu stated there were also many more members in the village. He said he couldn't get to the bodies.

The landslide occurred Friday night as people slept. Defense Minister Billy Joseph told Reuters that 4,000 people had been living in the six remote villages when the mountain land gave way. The locales are in the Maip-Mulitaka region in Enga province.

The remoteness of the places and covered roadways have made it hard for large equipment to arrive and help. Some aid workers tried to travel by convoy. But they have had to turn back. Many roads can't be accessed. The capital city is more than 35 miles from the places buried by the landslide.       

Reflect: How do you think a natural disaster, such as a landslide, might affect the daily lives of people living in an affected area?

Photo of people gathered to look at the aftermath of a landslide in Papua New Guinea.

The article mainly focuses on _______. (Common Core RI.5.2; RI.6.2)
a. the tools and methods used by rescuers to dig out people trapped in debris
b. the emotional toll on survivors of the landslide in Papua New Guinea
c. the impact of a landslide in Papua New Guinea, resulting in significant loss of life
d. the events that caused the landslide in Papua New Guinea
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