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Papua New Guinea fears 36 dead in landslide

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PORT MORESBY, April 4 (Reuters) - Up to 36 people may have died in a landslide in Papua New Guinea's rugged, jungle-clad mountains this week though only nine bodies have been pulled from the mud, the national disaster office said on Thursday.

"Thirty-six people are presumed to be buried under the slip," said Morobe province disaster official Manasupe Zurenouc.

"As of midday today, we have recovered nine bodies," he told Reuters by telephone.

Some 12 houses in Kobung village were buried in the landslide when a cliff collapsed just after midnight on Monday.

The village, strung out along a river 400 km (250 miles) north of the capital Port Moresby, is prone to landslides.

An earthquake in a distant part of Papua New Guinea on Monday evening may have contributed to the disaster though weeks of pounding rain was a more obvious cause, said Zurenouc.

The exact death toll from the latest landslide may never be known as population statistics are vague in Papua New Guinea's remote villages.

Papua New Guinea, which lies between Australia and Indonesia, is prone to natural disasters. Landslides, volcanoes, earthquakes and tidal waves have killed thousands in the past 10 years.

Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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