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NZ Herald ran a story over the weekend about the Tumbi Quarry landslide in Papua New Guinea, which killed at least 25 people (and possibly as many as 60 people) in January. As a reminder, the landslide occurred at the site of a quarry that has been providing aggregate for a LNG pipeline being constructed by ExxonMobil. It remains unclear as to whether the quarry played a role, but to date, despite promises, there has been no announcement of the actual instigation of a proper independent inquiry.
The journalist, Catherine Wilson, visited the site last week and interviewed the local landowners and villagers. The report highlights the injustice felt by those affected by the landslide that the road has been reopened across the landslide without the bodies of the deceased being recovered.
Also of interest is a description of the landslide by Jokoya Piwako, chief of Tumbi and Tumbiago villages:
‘Early in the morning, I woke up to go to work around 5 o’clock. I went out about 1km; then I heard the landslide come [about 5:45am]. I heard a big sound of smashing of the stone. All the rocks and everything went up in the air and the big wall of water, the rivers came in. Then after that, all the trees and stones and rocks up in the air came down and covered all the houses and children. I just couldn’t believe what had happened to my village, because all of my family, children, everything was gone with the house, everything’.
In an earlier post I included a photo of the Tumbi Quarry site before the landslide. I thought I’d look at this image in a little more detail. The photograph was collected on 27th January 2010, i.e. almost two years before the landslide:
Dave Petley, Executive Director of IHRR and Director of the International Landslide Centre, investigates the deadly landslide that occurred in Papua New Guinea that has killed at least 25 people in the South Pacific country. The landslide may have been caused by excavations from Exxon Mobil for their $15.7 billion gas project in the area.
Astute readers will have seen that Reuters yesterday ran a syndicated story about the Tumbi Quarry landslide, and the implications for Exxon-Mobil, which was picked up by many mainstream media outlets (e.g. the Guardian today). This blog is quoted in the article. With rather fortunate timing, a few days ago I have received an image of what I am reasonably sure is the site prior to the landslide (compare the features outside the landslide area with the images in this post). I will blog on this properly later today, but as a taster here is the image. I think that this image probably predates the most recent quarry expansion, and may therefore be at least a year old.