Papua New Guinea disaster - IOM 28 May 2024
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Papua New Guinea disaster - IOM 28 May 2024

Papua New Guinea landslide response hampered by complex conditions

Efforts to rescue those impacted by the deadly landslide in Papua New Guinea that has claimed an estimated 2,000 lives have been complicated by fears that the waterlogged ground could shift again. “We don’t want a disaster on top of the current one,” said Itayi Viriri, UN migration agency (IOM) regional spokesperson for Asia and the Pacific, on Tuesday.

Reports from the National Disaster Center indicate that up to 2,000 people were buried under mud and rubble after a massive landslide last Friday at 3am “when most people were probably sleeping”, said Itayi Viriri, UN migration agency (IOM) regional spokesperson for Asia and the Pacific.

The landslide engulfed the area, burying homes, infrastructure and farmland under up to eight metres of soil and debris. Only six bodies have been recovered so far. 

Speaking to journalists in Geneva from Bangkok via Zoom, the IOM spokesperson highlighted the vulnerability of those affected by the disaster: “A lot of the people who have been affected by this landslide actually moved to this area after escaping tribal conflicts in other parts of the province of Enga. So these are people who are already displaced who are now having to move to other locations.”

Dramatic video from the scene of the disaster showed locals and rescue workers struggling to shift a wall of mud and rubble using shovels. But safe access continues to be extremely difficult. “Just today, this morning, one of the main thoroughfares leading to this area, a bridge there collapsed. And now they have to fix it to make sure that all the convoys that are going to provide support have access.”

The UN agency warned that with so many bodies still to be recovered from beneath the rubble, there are concerns that underground water flowing down the mountain will contaminate local drinking water sources. 

Most of the area’s sources of clean drinking water are now inaccessible because of the landslide.  

“What is needed now, obviously, is access to clean water; quite a lot of the water that normally the community would access is already under rubble,” Mr. Viriri said. “So, providing that along with, food, of course, clothing, shelter items, kitchen utensils, anything that will try and alleviate the hardship that the people are facing right now.”

Heavy rains continue to hamper the relief effort, however. “This landslide that happened on Friday had not happened before in this area so it’s hard to say if it will happen again,” the IOM spokesperson said. “The soil is unsteady…and you’ve seen some of the videos of the water coming out in some of the rubble, so that makes it even more so. Yes, unfortunately we have to consider that it might happen again.”

ends

 

STORY: Papua New Guinea landslide update - IOM

TRT: 2’23”

SOURCE: UNTV CH 

RESTRICTIONS: NONE 

LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / NATS 

ASPECT RATIO: 16:9 

DATELINE: 28 MAY 2024 GENEVA, SWITZERLAND 

1. Exterior wide: UN Geneva flag alley  

2. Wide: Press conference room, UN Geneva.

3. SOUNDBITE (English) – Itayi Viriri, UN migration agency (IOM) regional spokesperson for Asia and the Pacific (from Bangkok via Zoom): “The National Disaster Center has estimated that up to 2000 people are still buried under the rubble after the massive landslide that took place on Friday at 3am when most people were probably sleeping.

4. Wide: journalists seated and TV camera operators in press room.

5. SOUNDBITE (English) – Itayi Viriri, UN migration agency (IOM) regional spokesperson for Asia and the Pacific (from Bangkok via Zoom) “A lot of the people who have been affected by this landslide actually moved to this area after escaping tribal conflicts in other parts of the province of Enga. So, these are people who are already displaced who are now having to move to other locations.”

6. Medium: journalists in the Press room.

7. SOUNDBITE (English) – Itayi Viriri, UN migration agency (IOM) regional spokesperson for Asia and the Pacific (from Bangkok via Zoom): “What is needed now, obviously, is access to clean water; quite a lot of the water that normally the community would access is already under rubble. So, providing that along with, food, of course, clothing, shelter items, kitchen utensils, anything that will try and alleviate the hardship that the people are facing right now.”

8. Medium: Journalists seated in the Press room.  

9. SOUNDBITE (English) – Itayi Viriri, UN migration agency (IOM) regional spokesperson for Asia and the Pacific (from Bangkok via Zoom):  And the reality also is that access to the area for, you know, Government and other agencies is quite difficult. Just today, this morning, one of the main thoroughfares leading to this area, a bridge there collapsed. And now they have to fix it to make sure that all the convoys that are going to provide support have access.”

10. Medium: journalists seated amid microphones.

11. SOUNDBITE (English): Itayi Viriri, UN migration agency (IOM) regional spokesperson for Asia and the Pacific (from Bangkok via Zoom): “This landslide that happened on Friday had not happened before in this area so it’s hard to say if it will happen again. But with the continued heavy rains in the vicinity obviously everything is – the soil is unsteady – and all the rubble is still (seeing) some movement and you’ve seen some of the videos of the water coming out in some of the rubble, so that makes it even more so. (So)  yes, unfortunately we have to consider that it might happen again.”

12. Medium shot: Journalist in the Press room.  

Additional images from PNG here:

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1qvqnOum0R2Lg0FzyeHnXRvoRbKCLDu4Z


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