More than 2,000 buried alive in Papua New Guinea landslide, government says

The Papua New Guinea government said a landslide Friday buried more than 2,000 people alive. It formally asked for international help, SİA reports citing CBS News.

The government figure is around three times more than a United Nations' estimate of 670.

The remains of only six people had been recovered so far. In a letter to the U.N. resident coordinator dated Sunday and seen by numerous news agencies, the acting director of the South Pacific island nation's National Disaster Center said the landslide "buried more than 2000 people alive" and caused "major destruction."

The landslide caused "major destruction to buildings, food gardens and caused major impact on the economic lifeline of the country," the letter said, according to Agence France-Presse.

The letter also said the main highway to the Porgera Gold Mine was "completely blocked." Estimates of the casualties have varied widely since the disaster occurred, and it wasn't immediately clear how officials arrived at the new number of people affected.

Australia was preparing Monday to send aircraft and other equipment to help at the landslide site as overnight rains in the nation's mountainous interior raised fears that the tons of rubble that buried villagers could become dangerously unstable.

Australian Defense Minister Richard Marles said his officials have been talking with their Papua New Guinea counterparts since Friday, when a mountainside collapsed on Yambali village in Enga province. "The exact nature of the support that we do provide will play out over the coming days," Marles told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

"We've obviously (have) airlift capacity to get people there. There may be other equipment that we can bring to bear in terms of the search and rescue (and other matters) ... that we are talking through with PNG right now," Marles added.

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