Relatives blame developer for disaster

National, Normal

The National, Monday 30th January 2012

RELATIVES of the 28 people buried alive in the landslide in Komo, Southern Highlands, have blamed the developer and its contractors for causing the disaster.
The landowners have called on the State and the developer to stop all operations – even the clearing of the road – until the relatives give the clearance.
More than 20 landowners who met at the Shady Rest Hotel in Port Moresby told reporters that they would not allow the road to be cleared as the place was now a mass burial ground.
The team was led by spokesman Steven Tukuyawini, chief Kupiowi Aluya and councillor Moris Aia.
They petitioned the government and the developer to charter planes so that the relatives of the missing 28 people be flown home to attend the funerals.
Many of them were flown from their homes to sign the UBSA in Kokopo and were still stranded in the city.
They needed to go home and provide leadership while they mourned the death of
their relatives.
They said they needed to go home to sit with their relatives and resolve some of their issues relating to the project and activities in the area.
They said the landslide occurred because of human activities such as the quarry and the blasting of rocks on the top of the mountain.
They said their environment and water sources had been contaminated by chemicals and waste from mining activities.
Three children had already died after drinking the contaminated water. Many people had developed skin diseases and rashes after using the polluted water.
“These are very serious issues and warrant an investigation into the cause of the landslide and for an independent environmental study to be conducted,” they said.
The leaders said the developer and the State had failed to resettle the people properly although funds were given for their relocation.
A spokesperson for the developer last week said the landslide was a “natural disaster”.