PNG begins wild weather relief operations – 21 killed in mud slides

Papua New Guinea is reeling from a series of mudslides in the Highlands
Papua New Guinea is reeling from a series of mudslides in the Highlands as torrential rain and king tides have hit the country for several days. Image: PNG screenshot APR

PNG Post-Courier

Prime Minister James Marape has announced comprehensive relief operations in Papua New Guinea’s devastating weather that has killed at least 21 people and impacted on 16 provinces.

The 21 who died were buried under tonnes of mud in three separate mudslides in Chimbu province.

Sixteen provinces in three regions were being monitored by the PNG National Weather Service for flooding following erratic changes in weather patterns, reports Claudia Tally.

From king tides, solar flares and rising temperatures since December 2023, the weather in the country has taken a swift turn to heavy downpours and reported flash flooding in Central, Northern, Western Highlands, Eastern Highlands, Madang and Morobe provinces over the last seven days.

The changes in the weather pattern, especially the flooding, has left many provincial highways eroded, bridges broken and people stranded.

The government’s relief operations, spearheaded by the Department of Works and Highways, National Disaster Office, and the PNG Defence Force, aims to mitigate the challenges faced by communities across the nation.

“King tides, landslips, and other unfortunate natural incidents as a result of the continuous rain and wet weather conditions around the country at present and in recent weeks is of concern to government,” Marape said.

Works directives
“We have already taken steps to provide relief and address the specific situations through the responsible government agencies.”

He said directives had been issued to the Works and Highways Department, National Disaster Office, and Defence Force to dispatch specialist teams.

A man tries to clear the debris blocked under the Waghi bridge
A man tries to clear the debris blocked under the Waghi bridge at Panga bordering Jiwaka and Western Highlands provinces on Wednesday morning. Image: PNG Post-Courier

“These teams are tasked with assessing and addressing road slippages and blockages, ensuring expedient restoration of access and support to the affected locales,” he said.

“Certain places around the country like Gumine in Chimbu Province have been cut off and require urgent attention to restore and relieve.

“Other places in low-lying areas of the country like Gulf Province are also being affected by the continuous rain.

“We’ve mobilised the necessary government resources to clear and relieve those areas affected by the heavy rains over the past month or more.”

He lauded the Department of Works and Highways for their prompt action in Porgera, Enga Province, following a landslip that severed connections to surrounding areas.

“The department’s efforts have successfully reopened the critical access road, demonstrating the government’s commitment to swift and effective crisis management,” he said.

Republished from the PNG Post-Courier with permission.

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