25 Apr 2008

PNG army to help with Okuk Highway clean-up

5:49 pm on 25 April 2008

The Papua New Guinea government has declared a state of emergency, calling for the army to reopen a highway blocked by a massive landslide in Simbu Province.

Following a meeting in Madang yesterday, the National Executive Council decided to call the defence force to help police deal with the issues affecting the Okuk Highway.

Heavy rain caused a massive landslide two weeks ago, blocking links with the Highlands region.

The Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare says the cabinet has approved 12 million US dollars for the call-out to clean up the damage.

Our correspondent, Oseah Philemon, says it could take a month for the highway to be cleared.

"It is quite an extensive damage. The area is also very unstable. Geologists and engineers say it is very unstable, so given that unless they don't have any fresh rain up there that could cause further landslides; if things remain normal, then they'll just be able to clear what is there."

Oseah Philemon says once the road is clear then emergency relief can be delivered.