The landslide disaster in PNG's Southern Highlands Province

As many as 60 people may have been killed in a massive landslide in the Papua New Guinea Highlands.

Details are still sketchy as a government assessment team still hasn't reached the area near Tari in Southern Highlands Province.

But eyewitness accounts talk of the whole side of a mountain having slid down around dawn yesterday, covering two villages.

The accounts talk of the landslide being between four and two kilometres long and one kilometre or 500 meters wide.

It occurred in an area where earthworks were reportedly being carried out in a quarry as part of the Hides gas project.

But the company says it has not used that quarry in the past six months.

According to local landowner Hitson Buma, people are in shock, and grieving their dead and missing relatives.

He says the death toll is difficult to gauge, but he's heard there have been about 40 deaths so far.

Mr Buma says access is difficult, with two bridges destroyed and the whole area still unstable.

At this stage, despite media reports that up to 100 people have been lost in the landslide, so far no bodies have been recovered, and those on the ground at the disaster say they have no idea how many people have been lost.

Francis Potape is the local member of parliament, and he has been on site since yesterday.

Presenter: Firmin Nanol
Speaker: Francis Potape, PNG member of Parliament from the Southern Highlands

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Australian Broadcasting Corporation