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More than 4,000 likely impacted by Papua New Guinea landslide, aid group says

More than 4,000 likely impacted by Papua New Guinea landslide, aid group says

SYDNEY - More than 4,000 people were likely impacted by a massive landslide that flattened a village in northern Papua New Guinea on Friday, humanitarian group CARE Australia said.

Hundreds are feared dead in the landslide in the Pacific nation north of Australia that levelled Kaokalam village in Enga Province, about 600 km (370 miles) northwest of capital Port Moresby, around 3 a.m. on Friday (1900 GMT on Thursday).

According to Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), more than six villages have been impacted by the landslide in the province's Mulitaka region, which local media said buried more than 300 people and over 1,100 houses.

CARE Australia said late on Saturday that nearly 4,000 people lived in the impact zone, with the total number of those affected probably higher as the area was "a place of refuge for those displaced by conflicts" in nearby areas.

In February, at least 26 men were killed in Enga Province in an ambush amid tribal violence that prompted Prime Minister James Marape to give arrest powers to the country's military.

CARE said Friday's landslide has left debris up to 8 meters (26 feet) deep across 200 square km (77 square miles), cutting off road access, which was making relief efforts difficult.

Helicopters were the only way to reach the area, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corp, which reported on Saturday that four bodies had been retrieved from rubble.

"More homes could be at risk if the landslide continues down the mountain," a CARE spokesperson said in a statement.

Marape has said disaster officials, the Defence Force and the Department of Works and Highways were assisting with relief and recovery efforts.

Social media footage posted by villager Ninga Role showed people clambering over rocks, uprooted trees and mounds of dirt searching for survivors. Women could be heard weeping in the background. —Reuters