PNG battered by rain, at least seven deaths

5:46 am on 21 October 2016

The provincial disaster office says the deaths have been reported in Watut, one of the local level government areas of Bulolo district.

Heavy rain in Papua New Guinea.

Heavy rain in Papua New Guinea. Photo: RNZI / Johnny Blades

Recent heavy rain has hampered road links and damaged food gadrens widely through the region, although the office is yet to receive reports from all of Morobe's nine districts.

The office's Jerry Ososo says Watut has been particularly hard hit by the rains, with dangerous slides of boulders and trees in hilly parts, in addition to flash flooding.

"We have seven dead, seven cases of dead reported there. Five of the bodies have been retrieved. Two, they're still looking for them. Four houses were being washed away during that time too."

The Chimbu provincial administration Says it's working to restore roads disrupted by heavy rain.

Chimbu is one of at least three Highlands provinces experiencing havoc brought by rain, which has washed out numerous roads and bridges.

The provincial administrator Joe Kunda Naur says key trunk roads from Kundiawa to Gumine and to Gembogl have been disrupted by landslips.

He said these roads are the lifeline on which rural district communities rely for their livelihoods such as getting locally grown coffee to market.

"These trunk roads actually belong to the national government. But if we have to wait around for the national government, we will get nowhere. I've spoken with the National Works manager who is the national government representative in the province. He says that they have no money. So we as a provincial government are taking the necessary steps now to actually do the roads ourselves. We are coping, we are doing what we can do on the ground."

Joe Kunda Naur says that the province has been clearing the landslips as and when they occur, but if they become bigger, Chimbu would need help from national agencies.