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PNG landslide: India sanctions $ 1mn aid; PM Modi offers more help

PNG landslide: India sanctions $ 1mn aid; PM Modi offers more help

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Virendra Pandit

New Delhi: In a heartwarming gesture, an overwhelmed Papua New Guinea (PNG) Prime Minister James Marape famously touched Narendra Modi’s feet and hugged him on the first Indian Prime Minister’s arrival to the island nation in the Pacific Ocean near Australia in May 2023.

Nearly a year later, PM Modi has offered all the necessary assistance to the tiny nation where nearly 2,000 people were buried alive in a remote village on Sunday in a massive landslide when a mountain collapsed after extremely heavy rains.

Nearly 8,000 people were evacuated on Tuesday following new threats of fresh landslides.

Meanwhile, the media reported on Tuesday that a bridge collapsed on the main route for getting aid and equipment to the site of a Papua New Guinea landslide, a UN agency said, describing unstable land conditions in areas of the rescue.

“It (the bridge collapse) has cut off the main highway, which leads to Enga (province),” Itayi Viriri, regional spokesperson for the International Organization for Migration, told a UN press briefing in Geneva by video link from Bangkok.

This was forcing heavy equipment being used to try to rescue people beneath the rubble to take a longer, alternative route.
“The conditions are very, very difficult. In some parts the land is still moving,” he said, adding that rain was still falling in the area of the accident.

India on Tuesday announced an immediate financial aid of USD 1 million to provide relief and assistance to people hit by a massive landslide that hit the Enga province on May 24 and buried hundreds of people and caused major destruction.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said PM Modi has condoled the deaths and conveyed India’s readiness to extend all possible support and assistance to the Pacific island country in its time of difficulty.

“As a close friend and partner under the Forum for India-Pacific Islands Cooperation (FIPIC) and as a gesture of solidarity with the friendly people of Papua New Guinea, the Government of India extends an immediate relief assistance of USD 1 million to support relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts,” it said.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Monday that India stands in solidarity with the people of Papua New Guinea in this difficult time.

“Deeply saddened by the loss of lives in Papua New Guinea following the recent landslide,” Dr. Jaishankar said on ‘X’.

“Our thoughts are with the Government and the people. India stands in solidarity with our friends at this difficult time,” he said.

The MEA said India has firmly stood by Papua New Guinea during times of difficulty and devastation caused by natural disasters, as in the wake of the earthquake in 2018 and volcanic eruptions in 2019 and 2023.

“An important pillar of India’s Indo-Pacific Oceans’ Initiative (IPOI), announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in November 2019, is disaster risk reduction and management,” it said in a statement.

It said India is committed to Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) and continues to be a responsible and steadfast responder.


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