Papua New Guinea says there are fears the number of missing persons following a deadly landslide could stretch into thousands.

The Acting Director of the Nation’s National Disaster Centre, Lusete Laso Mana said in a letter it was feared more than 2,000 people were buried alive in Friday’s disaster.

However, an exact casualty figure has been hard to establish and estimates have varied widely, as rescue efforts have been hindered by rubble 10m (32ft) deep in some places and a lack of adequate equipment.

Fewer than a dozen bodies have been recovered so far, while the United Nations (UN) put the figure of the missing at 670.

The collapse of a mountain side early Friday morning wiped out a bustling village in Enga province, with the damage extending for close to a kilometre, observers report.

About 3,800 people had been living in the area prior to the disaster.

The letter by Lusete Laso Mana said the damage was “extensive”, and that it had “caused major impact on the economic lifeline of the country”.

Prime Minister, James Marape has expressed his condolences and ordered the country’s defence force and emergency agencies to the area, about 600km North-West of the capital Port Moresby.

But locals in the affected Kaokalam village say they are still waiting for officials to step in with larger rescue operations.

BBC / Titilayo Kupoliyi

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