Papua New Guinea - Landslide OCHA Situation Report No. 2

Situation Report
Originally published
Ref: OCHA/GVA - 2002/0082
OCHA Situation Report No. 2
Papua New Guinea - Landslide
10 April 2002

This report is based on information provided by the Papua New Guinea (PNG) National Disaster Management Office (NDMO), through the OCHA Regional Disaster Response Advisor (RDRA) for the Pacific, based in Suva, Fiji, the IFRC Information Bulletin, and local media reports.

Disaster Situation

1. The landslide in the early hours of Tuesday, 2 April in the Wantoat area of Markham District in Morobe Province, 79 km Northwest of Lae, is now known to have killed 36 people, although only nine bodies have been recovered. Eleven people were injured, two of them seriously, and one was airlifted to Lae for treatment.

2. The landslide was probably caused by some weeks of heavy rain, though an earthquake of 5.3 magnitude (Richter Scale) on Monday, 2 April at 1615 hours (local time) may have contributed to the instability of the slope. The landslide covered about 1 sq. km and it struck two coffee plantation hamlets 6km Northeast of Wantoat District Station, completely burying 12 houses. The area is remote, inaccessible, and highly prone to landslides. In 1988 the Kaiapit Landslide in the Markham area destroyed 3 villages killing 74, and in 1996 another landslide killed 38 people.

National Response

3. Surviving villagers immediately attempted to dig out those who were buried and about 50 survivors were evacuated to higher ground. Word of the disaster reached the provincial authorities in Lae about 6 hours after the event. The road network was cut due to the heavy rain, but the injured were evacuated by the helicopters that brought in the rescue workers and officials from Morobe Province including the Governor, the Provincial Administrator and the Disaster Coordinator. On Thursday, 4 April they were joined on site by a team from the NDMO based in Port Moresby.

4. The villagers themselves are continuing to try to recover the remaining bodies. The Morobe Provincial Disaster Committee and the Lae Branch of the PNG Red Cross Society have provided tarpaulins, blankets and cooking utensils to the 138 survivors of the landslide. The provincial authorities are managing the immediate response, and the NDMO has stated that the situation is under control. However, the longer-term needs of the affected people are still to be assessed.

5. To date, neither the provincial authorities nor the national government have made any declaration of a state of emergency for the area, and they have not requested international assistance.

International Response

6. OCHA's RDRA in Fiji stays in close contact with the NDMO and the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Port Moresby.

7. This is the last report concerning this disaster unless there are unforeseen developments.

8. This situation report, together with further information on ongoing emergencies, is also available on the OCHA Internet Website at

Telephone: +41-22-917 12 34
Fax: +41-22-917 00 23

In case of emergency only: Tel. +41-22-917 20 10

Desk Officers:
Mr. R. Muller / Ms. M. Spaak / Ms. C. Cassabalian
Direct Tel. +41-22-917 31 31 / 17 28 / 11 73

Press contact:
(in GVA) - Ms. Elizabeth Byrs, direct Tel. +41-22-917 26 53
(in N.Y.) - Ms. Phyllis Lee, direct Tel. +1-212-963 48 32

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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