PM: Extraordinary weather causing disasters

Beneath the rubble: Locals digging at the site of a landslide at Yambali village in the region of Maip Mulitaka in Enga province. — AFP

THE nation’s Prime Minister James Marape blamed “extraordinary rainfall” and changes to weather patterns for multiple disasters in the Pacific Island nation this year, including a landslide last week, which may have killed thousands.Parts of a mountain in the Maip-Mulitaka area in Enga province in PNG’s north collapsed in the early hours of last Friday.

Marape said more than 2,000 people are estimated to have died, with up to 70,000 people living in the area impacted by the disaster.

“Our people in that village went to sleep for the last time, not knowing they would breathe their last breath as they were sleeping peacefully.

“Nature threw a disastrous landslip, submerged or covered the village,” Marape told Parlia-ment yesterday.

Natural disasters have cost the country more than 500 million kina (RM613.8mil) this year before the landslide at Enga, he said.

“This year, we had extraordinary rainfall that has caused flooding in river areas, sea level rise in coastal areas and landslips in a few areas,” Marape said.

“We have faced extraordinary weather patterns and changes from dryness to wetness.”

Deputy Prime Minister John Rosso said: “The climate change effects that are here now is not just in Enga.”

“For the last two months we have seen unprecedented disasters throughout the country,” he said.

Defence Minister Billy Joseph arrived in Enga yesterday with relief supplies including food, water, blankets and tents provided by Australia on two Australian military aircraft.

Australia’s High Commissioner John Feakes said in Enga, more plane loads, with supplies and Australian rescue personnel and technical teams would arrive in coming days, the PNG Post-Courier reported.

The United States has pledged 2 million kina (RM2.5mil) for emergency shelter and logistics support, its embassy said.

Authorities have raised concerns about the outbreak of diseases amid warnings of further landslides. Thousands of people have been ordered to evacuate amid further earth slips in the mountain.

The landslide had hit a section of highway near the Porgera gold mine, operated by Barrick Gold through Barrick Niugini Ltd, its joint venture with China’s Zijin Mining. The miner said its operations were not affected. — Reuters

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