India announces $1 million in relief to Papua New Guinea after landslide buries alive 2,000 people


New Delhi: India has announced $1 million in relief aid for Papua New Guinea after a landslide Friday buried alive more than 2,000 people in the country, which New Delhi considers an important partner in the Indo-Pacific region.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said in a statement that the immediate monetary assistance was for the relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts in the country, which is a “close friend and partner” under the Forum for India-Pacific Islands Cooperation (FIPIC).

The statement added: “India has firmly stood by Papua New Guinea during times of difficulty and devastation caused by natural disasters, as in the wake of the earthquake in 2018 and volcanic eruptions in 2019 and 2023.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi also posted on X that India was “ready to offer all possible support and assistance,” to the government of Papua New Guinea.

On 24 May parts of a mountain collapsed in the early hours, burying about 2,000 people and at least 150 structures in the village of Yambali in Enga province, nearly 600 kilometres northwest of the country’s capital, Port Moresby.

The figures released by the government are much higher than the figures of the United Nations (UN), which estimated that the death toll could be 670 people. Landslides are a frequent occurrence in Papua New Guinea. However, this was one of the most devastating disasters in recent years, Reuters reported.

The landslide is still active, with the Papua New Guinean government ordering more evacuations Tuesday.

What is hampering relief? 

The village is located in a mountainous part of the Enga province, with a highway connecting the provincial capital of Wabag to the gold mining town of Porgera, which goes through the landslide-hit Yambali.

Towns and villages ahead of Yambali have been cut off from Wabag. Additionally, according to the Associated Press, emergency responders are walking to the earthfall site due to the debris on the highway.

Furthermore, 6 to 8 metres of debris is being cleared entirely by hand with shovels and picks, after survivors prevented an excavator donated by a local builder from aiding in the efforts, to prevent harm from coming to the bodies stuck under the rubble, according to media reports.

To make mattes worse, emergency convoys are unable to move freely — operating only during daylight hours — due to an ongoing tribal feud in the province.

The conflict resulted in the deaths of 26 people during an ambush in February. On Saturday, hours after the landslide, eight people were killed in a clash between rival tribes, according to the Associated Press. Nearly 30 homes and businesses were burned down in the fight.

(Edited by Tikli Basu)

Also read: 12 killed in Mizoram and 2 dead in Assam as Cyclone Remal triggers storms, landslides


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