Remote communities in Papua New Guinea have been devastated by a catastrophic landslide that struck the Enga province at 3am on 24 May. The timing of the landslide meant most people were sleeping at the time of the disaster, with little time to escape.

Hundreds are feared dead, with the United Nations estimating that at least 670 people may have lost their lives, with fears this toll could reach the thousands. The total population of the entire affected ward is close to 4,000, but this figure could be higher due to an increased number of displaced people living in the area in recent times.

The ongoing search and rescue operations are facing challenges due to the hazardous terrain and the continuous threat of landslides, resulting in slower progress. The affected area remains highly unstable, which is hampering efforts to find and rescue those caught in the landslide.

As rescue efforts continue, those who have lost their homes will urgently need food, shelter and clean water in the weeks and months ahead.

Caritas Australia’s partners on the ground in Papua New Guinea are currently conducting a rapid needs assessment in the affected villages to determine the most urgent priorities.

The recovery is expected to be long, and food, shelter and clean water are among the most urgent needs for people who have lost their homes because of the landslide.

Caritas Australia has launched an appeal to support its partners on the ground and those affected by the devastation. Donations can be made here or by calling 1800 024 413 toll free.

Banner image: People cross over a landslide area to get to the other side in Yambali village, Papua New Guinea, 24 May. (Photo: Benjamin Sipa for International Organization for Migration.)