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Papua New Guinea's PM pays respects to community devastated by landslide

Villagers search through a landslide in Yambali, in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea, May 26, 2024.   -  
Copyright © africanews
Mohamud Omer/International Organization for Migration via AP

Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister James Marape on Friday (May 31) paid respect to the people killed in last week's devastating landslide.

The survivors wore clay on their face as an outward sign mourning.

James Marape visited the disaster zone in Enga Province in the country's remote north.

He told the survivors that relief work is being sped up to help them and recover bodies.

“We will do our uttermost best to fast track work and ensure relief work goes in. From reports we have received, on engineering or seismic reports, the earth is still moving."

"The place is a little bit unstable. That is why work with machinery haven't moved in case it triggers another landslide,” Marape said.

His visit comes as uncertainty still shrouds the death toll.

The government estimating over 2000 dead while local provincial councillors say the real figure is closer to 160.

The nation’s military had expected up to 10 excavators and bulldozers to be on the scene this week to help villagers who have used spades and farming tools to painstakingly retrieve bodies from the rubble but have so far only found seven.

Geothermal work is also being carried out over concerns that the land is unstable and could be prone to further landslides.

The island nation is part of the Commonwealth realms; therefore, its head of state is British monarch Charles III.