Huge landslide in Chimbu leaves 400 families homeless

A massive landslide has occurred on the foot of Mount Porol in Chimbu's Sinasina Yongomugl District over the weekend destroying houses, food gardens, cash crops and cultivation lands.

The 5.9km landslide has affected many families whose livelihood depend on food crops grown within the proximity of the disaster site.

Mt Porol experienced its worst landslide in 2010 in which the magnitude of the devastation extended 9km downward towards Warasimbu, causing widespread destruction of homes, food gardens, fish-ponds, coffee gardens and other cash crops.

The magnitude of the disaster was assessed by the Provincial Disaster Office. The assessment was reportedly valued at K104 million.

This recent landslide created more (serious) problems for the more than  400 families who were recovering from the 2010 disastrous landslide.

While some lost food gardens, cash crops drinking water springs others are totally without  cultivation land to sustain their families.

Greater attention  from the authorities is needed as families affected are in dire need for assistance, according to former ward councillor Kuike Koane.

He said the impact has seriously affected the already affected families including school children.

"The continuous wet season caused landslide which  caused destruction. 

"Also huge cracks were discovered beneath the foot of the mountain posing risks for the geography. It is now very risky for the people to do gardening there.

“Despite the risks some desperate families are still marking gardens as it is their only means to sustain their livelihood," Koane said.

Department of Works officers said  the landslide is about 2.5km away from the Highlands Highway and the possibility of the highway being affected by the landslide is imminent.

The recent landslide has occurred along the same mountain ridge where the 2008 Gera landslide caused massive destruction to the  Highlands Highway.

A Geo-Tech field investigation report  on landslide was conducted by the Department of  Mineral  Policy and Geo- Hazard in 2011.

A copy of  the report was submitted to the Department of Provincial & Local Level Government by the Mt Porol working committees seeking assistance to resettle the victims.

There was no proper response from the authorities until the weekend's recurrence, according to working committees chairman John Aina.

The devastation (of the current landslide) has serious physical and psychological impacts on the victims who were struggling to rebuild their lives from the 2010  landslide.

The working committees had informed the  Sinasina-Yongumugl District Development Authority, Provincial Administrator and the Provincial Disaster Office.

Councillor Koane has called on the district administration to engage officers to assist the Provincial Disaster Office and and access the disaster for relief assistance.

"A resettlement program for the affected families is needed as they are now encountering a difficult situation."
Chairman Aina said, "In any natural disaster humanitarian aid is of paramount importance. School children are not attending classes and is causing great concern for their families."

Aina said, "Our children are very important as they are Papua New Guinea's national assets and we are appealing for assistance."

Michael Koma