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Disasters, Papua New Guinea

PNG landslide update: site clearance begins

Papua New Guinea’s Crisis Management Team has begun clearing the debris and mud from the  massive January 24 Tumi landslide.
About 25 bodies are still believed to be buried in the landslip.

Other reports suggest 60 could have died.

A report into the disaster by the National Disaster Centre Technical Assessment team says the landslide was caused by “continuous heavy rainfall which weakened, or undermined, the existing topography and the limestone formation.”

The landslide covers an estimated 9.5 hectares and the volume of material involved is more than 3 million cubic metres. The thickness of the material is about 30 metres, making the recovery of bodies near impossible.

The report states the team found “clear evidence (of) rising water table within the debris field.”
It states that “continued uncontrolled access to the site  by a large number of people increases the likelihood of injuries/death caused by further slips.”

The report recommends residents be relocated to safer areas, that the debris field and drain pools at   be stabilised, and that security at the site be increased.

However the absence of analysis of industrial activity around the site, which many locals say contributed to the disaster, has led to criticism of the report. The Wilson Professor of Hazard and Risk in the Department of Geography at Durham University in the United Kingdom, Dave Petley says the report should not be considered to be the definitive analysis of this landslide.  “Much more detailed analysis is needed, and lessons need to be learnt in terms of other slopes in Papua New Guinea.”


About Samantha Magick

Journalist and editor


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