12 reportedly dead after tribal clashes near PNG landslide in Enga

PNG Prime Minister James Marape (second from right) visits the Engan landslide area
PNG Prime Minister James Marape (second from right) visits the Engan landslide area . . . seated daubed in white clay and ashes are children who have lost their parents or relatives in the disaster. Image: PNG Post-Courier

By Eleisha Foon, RNZ Pacific senior journalist

Papua New Guinean Prime Minister James Marape visited Wabag, the capital of Enga  province, to meet authorities before flying to the site of last week’s landslide disaster to inspect the damage up close.

Tribal violence between two clans in Tambitanis is still active, reportedly leading to 12 deaths since Saturday last week, reports said.

Provincial Administrator Sandis Tsaka said that after 14 days the affected area would be quarantined with restricted access to prevent the spread of infection, and those who remained undiscovered would be officially declared missing persons.

According to the UN International Organisation for Migration, 217 people with minor injuries had received treatment, while 17 individuals who had major and minor injuries were treated at the Wabag General Hospital (as of 30 May).

The IOM said some patients with major injuries remained in the hospital

Earlier, PNG police chief inspector Martin Kelei told RNZ Pacific people on the ground want the bodies of their loved ones to be retrieved as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, a geotechnical expert from New Zealand, who arrived on Thursday, is conducting a ground assessment as the landslip is still moving.

ABC News reports that uncertainty surrounds the final death toll from the landslide with a local official saying he believed 162 people had been killed in the natural disaster — far fewer than estimated by the United Nations or the country’s government.

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

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