The National, Thursday November 7th, 2013
EXCAVATION work began yesterday to re-open the Highlands Highway at the landslide-covered section in Daulo district, Eastern Highlands.
But workers had to remove the debris cautiously and slowly because eight people are believed still buried underneath it
Fire officers from Goroka assisted by flushing are being dug to look for the missing people.
Covec (PNG) Road Construction Company is carrying outthe excavation work around the clock. Heavy rain yesterday slowed down the excavation work and the search for the missing people.
It is anticipated that the highway will be re-opened on Friday.
PMVs, travellers, motorists and trucks destined for Chimbu, Jiwaka, Western Highlands, Enga, Southern Highlands and Hela are stranded in Goroka. Most of them are queued up at the top of Daulo Pass mountain.
Those bound for Goroka, Lae and Madang are stranded in Kundiawa and Mount Hagen.
The highway was completely blocked off on Saturday night by the landslide which destroyed properties and buried alive nine people.
Barano villagers and Government officers yesterday agreed to start the excavation work and the search for the bodies.
The locals’ K6 million demand was received by Lands and Physical Planning Minister Benny Allan, pictured left, on behalf of the Government.
He assured them that he would pass it on to Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, right.
Works Minister Francis Awesa, centre, is expected to visit Barano villagers at the landslide site today.
Works Department officers began their survey of the landslide yesterday.
Spokesman for the families BareWapo said they were relieved that the search for the missing people could start.
“We cannot afford to continue allow our loved ones to remain under the debris. We need to get then out as soon as possible,” Wapo said.