PNG Landslide Kills at Least 40

Posted January 25th, 2012 at 2:05 am (UTC-5)
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A landslide has hit a rural area in central Papua New Guinea, killing at least 40 people.

Local news reports early Wednesday said 40 bodies have been recovered but that at least another 20 people are still missing.

The landslide struck early Tuesday in Papua New Guinea's Southern Highlands, a remote area with several small villages. Two of the settlements were reportedly destroyed.

The area is near the site of a huge ExxonMobil liquefied natural gas project under construction and due to begin production in 2014. A spokesman for the company says work has been halted on the $16 billion plant until the situation stabilizes.

Local emergency officials say the situation is still too fluid to confirm the numbers. Government officials are flying to the remote disaster site later Wednesday to coordinate relief efforts.

Prime Minister Peter O'Neill is also expected to visit the scene later Wednesday.