Fears for dozens missing after PNG landslide

By PNG correspondent Liam Fox

There are reports dozens of people may have been buried in a landslide in Papua New Guinea's mountainous Highlands region.

Aerial photographs show the landslide near Tari in the Southern Highlands extends for about 1 kilometre and is several hundred metres wide.

Some houses narrowly avoided being swept away when the landslide happened at 6:00am (local time), but locals say dozens of people were buried.

Tari resident Joseph Warai says around 40 people are missing.

"Almost five big trucks [were] covered and gardens and houses [were] all destroyed," he said.

The landslide is near one of the main work sites for Exxon-Mobil's massive liquefied natural gas project.

Spokeswoman Rebecca Arnold says the main road in the area has been cut and work at the site and a nearby airfield has stopped.

She says the company is standing by to help the community.

"That could include support such as food, rations, temporary housing needs, offering the use of heavy equipment and to have that standing by for deployment," Ms Arnold said.

"We are ready and willing to assist the government as soon as they require our services."

Officials from the National Disaster Centre are expected to travel to the area tomorrow to assess the damage.

The Australian High Commission says all Australians reported to be in the area have been accounted for.


Australian Broadcasting Corporation