Bad weather hampers PNG landslide relief – two bodies found, 13 missing

Saki landslide
Villager rescuers at Saki landslide site try to search for survivors or bodies. Image: PNG Bulletin

By Harlyne Joku in Port Moresby

Bad weather has delayed the second relief supplies drop to Papua New Guinea’s landslide victims at Saki village near the former Tolukuma gold mine in Woitape, Goilala, in Central province.

Acting Provincial Administrator Francis Koaba confirmed that yesterday a provincial disaster team and supplies, including digging tools and chainsaws, were provided to assist in retrieving the buried bodies.

Koaba also confirmed that 13 people were still buried in a landslide that swept down on the hut as they were sleeping at dawn on Monday.

Only two bodies have been recovered.

“As of yesterday, information received from the Member for Goilala William Samb on site is that a total of 15 people were buried alive in the landslide. Two were uncovered and 13 unaccounted for,” Koaba said.

“This morning the Disaster Team and supplies, including digging tools and chainsaws, were dispatched to the site by the Central Province Administration.

“The second flight this afternoon has been deferred to tomorrow [Thursday] due to bad weather,” Koaba said.

The Saki hamlet is a three hour walk across rugged and deep gorges from the former Tolukuma gold mine.

Saki has become a small hub where an estimated 3000 small scale alluvial gold miners from surrounding villages camp to pan for gold.

Harlyne Joku is a Papua New Guinean journalist. This article is republished with permission.

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