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What We Know About the Papua New Guinea Landslide

Nearly five days after a landslide devastated a remote section of Papua New Guinea, officials in the Pacific Island nation have begun evacuating residents, because the area remains unsafe.

“Rocks are still moving, the mountain is still crumbling, and we are seeing rock and debris pile up on what’s already happened,” Sandis Tsaka, the administrator of Enga Province, the site of the disaster, said on Tuesday evening. “The land around is starting to cave in.”

Those conditions, Mr. Tsaka said, had also prevented officials from bringing in heavy equipment to clear the debris and search for survivors. The circumstances also make it difficult to understand the true scale of the tragedy, with estimates of the death toll ranging from the hundreds to the thousands.

Here is what we know so far:

What happened?

The landslide hit the community around Yambali village around 3 a.m. on Friday. Boulders the size of shipping containers demolished buildings, burying at least 60 homes and at least one elementary school.

Papua New Guinea is especially vulnerable to natural disasters, and this landslide disrupted the main highway into the region, making it harder to deliver aid.

Videos posted on social media showed residents using shovels and hand picks to look for survivors under massive rocks. One United Nations official estimated that the debris was as high as 26 feet.

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