The Nationl, Monday 10th September, 2012
By YVONNE HAIP and JEFFREY ELAPA
THREE children have been buried alive by a landslip in Southern Highlands, while heavy rains caused havoc, affecting more than 200,000 people, reports reaching Mt Hagen suggest.
An elementary schoolboy and two girls between the ages of 10 and 16 were buried alive when a huge landmass gave way and covered them at Wara Boom in the lower Mendi area last Thursday afternoon.
Their bodies are yet to be recovered from the site while relatives had conducted funeral wakes.
In what was described as a “nightmare” for the people last Thursday night, the province experienced multiple landslips, floods, deaths and damages.Kagua, Erave, Kutubu, Poroma, Nembi Plateau and parts of Imbonggu were left devastated and cut off as a result of continuous rain over the past two weeks.
Governor William Powi and Kagua-Erave MP James Lagea confirmed the disaster affecting the province last Friday before Powi left for China to meet up with the prime ministerial entourage arriving there from Russia.
Chief secretary and national disaster relief coordinator Manasupe Zurenuoc confirmed the disaster yesterday after he organised an aerial tour of the affected areas.The province’s large rivers also burst their banks causing mayhem as bridges were washed away, millions of kina worth of properties damaged, trees uprooted and homes and domestic animals swept away by rushing floods.Three Yalo River bridges in three separate locations were washed away.The main 40m Yalo Bridge linking the Kagua-Erave electorate and the rest of Southern Highlands was washed away. The same bridge is used to travel to the Gobe oil project.
The Pale and Kendagl bridges were also submerged leaving no room for motorists and people to access.
The Mubi River in Kutubu also flooded while the Nembi River in Poroma burst its banks leaving homes and food gardens under water.Several landslides also occurred in parts of the province including Mendo in Kagua, Wara Boom and Gobe in Erave.Zurenuoc yesterday put the total cost at K15.1 million and said work to restore the main Mendi-Kagua road alone will cost about K3 million.
“So far, five bridges have been damaged including the Kandal, Pale, Yalo, Warabung and Mapel bridges.
“The 40m Yalo Bridge connects Kagua-Erave to the Highlands Highway.
“The bridge has been washed away.
“If there are no temporary measures taken by the government, services will decline in the area,” Zurenuoc said.
“The Department of Works has recommended that immediate work kicks off on the existing Kagua-Mendi road in order for services to reach Kagua.”
He said acting Prime Minister Leo Dion would call a special cabinet meeting today to release funds for the reconstruction process to begin.
Zurenuoc said apart from damages to infrastructures, rains had caused damages, flooding and landslips in Poroma, Pimaga and Gobe.
He said provincial teams were out in the field to compile details of damages to enable humanitarian relief.
Traffic to Mendi, Tari and Kutubu from Mt Hagen had been cut off at Kubame.