Deaths feared as landslide hits Papua New Guinea

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07:25 AM January 25th, 2012

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January 25th, 2012 07:25 AM

SYDNEY—Rescue workers were Wednesday attempting to reach a remote part of Papua New Guinea after a massive landslide which Australian reports said may have left dozens of people buried.

The landslide struck near a huge ExxonMobil liquefied natural gas project in the country’s rugged southern highlands on Tuesday, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation said, leaving a trail of destruction.

It cited a local villager as saying about 40 people were missing, although this could not be confirmed. Other reports said only a handful of homes were lost.

An aerial shot of the disaster showed mud and other debris extending for about one kilometer (0.62 miles) across a forested area.

A spokeswoman for ExxonMobil said all its personnel were accounted for.

“We have been in contact with the Natural Disaster and Response Office. We have closed down work in the surrounding area,” she said.

ExxonMobil’s Aus$16 billion LNG project is due to begin production in 2014 and will see PNG’s natural gas sold across Asia for the next 30 years.

ABC said the main road in the area had been cut in half, hindering rescue workers’ attempts to reach the scene, but they were expected to arrive later Wednesday when a fuller picture should emerge.

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