Dozens feared missing after landslide in Papua New Guinea

January 24th, 2012 - 6:49 pm ICT by BNO News  

PORT MORESBY (BNO NEWS) — As many as 40 people are believed to be missing after a large landslide devastated two villages in Papua New Guinea’s Southern Highlands region on Tuesday morning, a minister said.

Papua New Guinean Petroleum and Energy Minister Francis Potape told Radio Australia that the landslide happened on early Tuesday morning near the village of Tari in the Southern Highlands province. He said the landslide struck two villages as people slept.

“The landslide is about a kilometer (0.6 mile) long and about 300 meters (984 feet) wide,” Potape told Radio Australia. “There are people buried underneath and a number of them are from what I have heard, children.”

A photo published by Radio Australia showed some houses narrowly avoided being swept away. “Almost five big trucks have also been covered and gardens and houses all destroyed,” local resident Joseph Warai was quoted as saying. He said as many as 40 people are missing.

The landslide happened near one of the main work sites for Exxon-Mobil’s liquefied natural gas (PNG LNG) project in the region. A company spokeswoman said work at the site and a nearby airfield has been halted and said Exxon has offered help to assist with search-and-rescue operations.

Other details were not immediately known.

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