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The International Organization for Migration has increased its estimate of the death toll from a massive landslide in Papua New Guinea to more than 670. The previous estimate had been 60 homes buried, but calculations by local officials now indicate that more than 150 homes were affected by the disaster. Despite initial hopes of finding survivors, rescue efforts have been hampered by unstable ground and ongoing tribal conflict in the region. Additional houses have been condemned, leaving an estimated 1,250 people homeless.

Relief crews are working to move survivors to safer ground as the recovery effort continues. An excavator has been brought in to help with the search and rescue operations, but the chances of finding survivors are slim given the depth of the debris. Local authorities are establishing evacuation centers on safer ground and considering whether more international support is needed. The national government is assessing the situation and may request additional assistance.

Tribal warfare in the area has added complexity to the relief efforts, with clashes between rival clans resulting in casualties and property damage. Security concerns have arisen for convoys transporting essential supplies to the affected village, with fears of carjacking and theft in the chaotic aftermath of the disaster. The focus remains on providing survivors with food, water, shelter, and medical assistance.

The exact population of the village at the time of the landslide is still uncertain, with the official estimate of almost 4,000 people likely to be outdated. Survivors who had relocated to the village more recently to escape clan violence have not been accounted for in the figures. The humanitarian agency CARE International is working to address the immediate needs of the survivors, with the military playing a key role in the relief operations.

Government officials are evaluating the extent of the damage and the requirements for ongoing support. Defense Minister Billy Joseph and other officials are assessing the situation on the ground in Wabag to determine next steps. The United States and Australia have expressed readiness to provide additional assistance, highlighting the international community’s commitment to helping Papua New Guinea respond to this devastating disaster. The country’s diverse population and challenging conditions underscore the urgency of the ongoing relief efforts to support those affected by the landslide.

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