Papua New Guinea Grapples With Devastating Landslide As Tribal Warfare Threatens Rescue Efforts

The people of Papua New Guinea are reeling from a that has claimed the lives of more than 670 people, according to the latest estimates from the International Organization for Migration (IOM). As emergency crews work tirelessly to locate survivors and recover bodies, the rescue operation faces the added challenge of tribal warfare in the region.

Serhan Aktoprak, the IOM’s chief of mission in Papua New Guinea, revealed that the revised death toll was based on calculations by local officials. They believe more than 150 homes were buried when a side of Mount Mungalo gave way on Friday, a significant increase from the initial estimate of 60 homes.

The depth of the debris, reaching 6 to 8 meters (20 to 26 feet) in places, has made the recovery effort incredibly difficult. With only a handful of bodies retrieved so far, hope is fading that any survivors will be found.

To make matters worse, an additional 250 houses have been condemned due to the risk of further landslides. This has left an estimated 1,250 people homeless, adding to the already overwhelming humanitarian crisis.

As survivors are rescue teams must also contend with the ever-present threat of tribal warfare. Clashes between rival clans in a nearby village have highlighted the volatility of the situation, with concerns that the chaos could be exploited by opportunistic criminals.

The national government is considering requesting international assistance to help manage the disaster. For now, the focus remains on supporting the traumatized community as they come to terms with the enormity of their loss.