Rescue Teams Don't Expect to Find Survivors in Papua New Guinea Landslide

This handout photo taken and received on May 29, 2024 courtesy of Nickson Pakea, president of Porgera Chamber of Commerce and Industry, shows locals digging at the site of a landslide at Yambali village in the region of Maip Mulitaka, in Papua New Guinea's Enga Province. (Photo by NICKSON PAKEA / PRESIDENT OF PORGERA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY / AFP)
This handout photo taken and received on May 29, 2024 courtesy of Nickson Pakea, president of Porgera Chamber of Commerce and Industry, shows locals digging at the site of a landslide at Yambali village in the region of Maip Mulitaka, in Papua New Guinea's Enga Province. (Photo by NICKSON PAKEA / PRESIDENT OF PORGERA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY / AFP)
TT

Rescue Teams Don't Expect to Find Survivors in Papua New Guinea Landslide

This handout photo taken and received on May 29, 2024 courtesy of Nickson Pakea, president of Porgera Chamber of Commerce and Industry, shows locals digging at the site of a landslide at Yambali village in the region of Maip Mulitaka, in Papua New Guinea's Enga Province. (Photo by NICKSON PAKEA / PRESIDENT OF PORGERA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY / AFP)
This handout photo taken and received on May 29, 2024 courtesy of Nickson Pakea, president of Porgera Chamber of Commerce and Industry, shows locals digging at the site of a landslide at Yambali village in the region of Maip Mulitaka, in Papua New Guinea's Enga Province. (Photo by NICKSON PAKEA / PRESIDENT OF PORGERA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY / AFP)

Papua New Guinea ruled out finding survivors under the rubble of a massive landslide on Thursday, with the exact number of dead under almost two stories of debris and mud still unknown but ranging from hundreds to thousands.
Heavy equipment and aid have been slow to arrive because of the treacherous mountain terrain, a damaged bridge on the main road, and tribal unrest in the area, Reuters reported.
"No bodies are expected to be alive under the debris at this point, so it's a full recovery operation to recover any human remains," Enga province disaster committee chairperson Sandis Tsaka told Reuters.
Officials are still trying to pinpoint how many people are buried under parts of a mountain which collapsed onto the Yambali village in the Enga region around 3 a.m. last Friday.
Without a current census – the last credible one was done in 2000 – officials are relying on incomplete voter records and checks with local leaders to reach an estimate on total deaths.
More than 2,000 people may have been buried alive, according to the PNG government. A UN estimate put the death toll at around 670, while a local businessman and former official told Reuters it was closer to 160.
Tsaka said the government was still unsure about the death toll though it would be a "significant number."
"It could be anywhere from hundreds to 2,000. I wouldn't totally rule 2,000 out because of the uncertainty about how many people were (there) at the time but I can't give you a definitive answer till we complete the social mapping," he said.
Of the six bodies recovered so far, two lived outside the disaster area, Tsaka said, reinforcing officials' view that there was lots of movement between communities.
Dozens of soldiers, engineers, geology experts and public health officials have reached the site, Tsaka said. Rescue teams are planning to use heavy machinery from Thursday, after unstable ground delayed its use earlier.
Thousands of residents are on alert for potential evacuation in case the landslide shifts further downhill.



EU Agrees ‘In Principle’ On Starting Accession Talks for Ukraine, Moldova

European Union flags flutter outside the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium May 5, 2021. Yves Herman, Reuters
European Union flags flutter outside the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium May 5, 2021. Yves Herman, Reuters
TT

EU Agrees ‘In Principle’ On Starting Accession Talks for Ukraine, Moldova

European Union flags flutter outside the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium May 5, 2021. Yves Herman, Reuters
European Union flags flutter outside the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium May 5, 2021. Yves Herman, Reuters

Ambassadors from the EU's 27 member states on Friday “agreed in principle” on beginning accession negotiations with Ukraine and Moldova on June 25, the Belgian presidency of the EU's Council said.
“Ambassadors agreed in principle on the negotiating frameworks for the accession negotiations of Ukraine and Moldova. The Belgian presidency will call the first intergovernmental conferences on 25 June,” it said.
The presidency added that EU ministers are due to formally approve the decision during a meeting on June 21. In the Netherlands, parliament must also give its consent.
Ukraine and fellow neighbor Moldova applied to join the EU shortly after Russia launched its all-out invasion in February 2022.
In a historic step, EU leaders agreed in mid-December to open accession talks with Ukraine and Moldova.
But Hungary continues to veto the start of negotiations concerning Ukraine's accession to the EU, arguing that Kiev has not yet met the conditions required for the launch of such talks.
On June 7, the Commission said that both countries met all the criteria for accession negotiations formally to begin.
The Commission had previously called on Kyiv to take action to combat corruption and the influence of oligarchs.
Also, UNHCR called for the promotion of the rights of ethnic minorities, a demand Budapest insisted on due to the presence of a Hungarian community in Ukraine.
Starting the negotiations would put Ukraine at the start of what is likely to be a years-long process before it can finally become a member.
Ukraine, with a population of more than 40 million people, is an agricultural powerhouse. Its accession to the EU will face many obstacles.