At least 12 people have been buried by a landslip in the Tambul-Nebilyer district in Papua New Guinea's Western Highlands Province.
The slip happened between one and two am this morning at Lamindi Village in Tendepo Ward Two.
Speaking to RNZ Pacific around 11am local time the Tambul-Nebilyer district administrator Phillip Talpa said the community is still in a state of shock.
"There are about 12 people, 12 confirmed people buried underground with their houses. We have not done any excavation or anything like that yet we are trying to mobilise resources to do excavation either today or tomorrow to find out who is actually buried underground," said Phillip Talpa.
Mr Talpa says over the past week the district had experienced a lot of heavy rain and there is a high risk of more landslips occurring in the area.
"We are trying to ask those nearby to relocate to their other relatives, leave their place and move out but it is very hard for them to do that but we are trying ask them to move out of the area," Mr Talpa said.
Phillip Talpa said they are also trying to get local health workers set-up near the affected community to help treat survivors and make preparations to manage any disease outbreaks in the longer term.
He said the rescue and recovery effort is the main priority for now but he is hoping the provincial disaster authorities will carry out a disaster assessment sooner rather than later so those affected can get the support they need going forward.
"It just caught people off-guard and it has really traumatised the people and people are worried," Mr Talap said.
"On the other hand people are hearing about the coronavirus in other places and other areas and we were not expecting this kind of thing to happen in our own area."