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PNG: Landslide victims' families seek compo

"The camp site is a death trap. It was built at the wrong place"

Sydney Morning Herald
December 10th, 2008

Relatives of 10 people killed in a landslide at a remote goldmine camp in Papua New Guinea want one million kina ($A500,000) in compensation from the mining company.

Extreme rainfall triggered last Thursday's landslide that killed five mine exploration workers in their rooms at Barrick Gold Corporation's Kainantu mine in PNG's Eastern Highlands province and five local villagers who were travelling through the area from a nearby food garden.

Chairman of the local Bilimoia Landowners Association and spokesman for the relatives of the deceased, Busa Sio, said the families wanted 100,000 kina (A$50,000) for each of the 10 Papua New Guineans killed in the landslide.

The dead included three children.

"We went straight to the company and asked to be paid the compensation," Sio told PNG's The National newspaper.

"We do not want any (lengthy) process. We told them that we will only take the bodies out of the funeral home at Goroka when the money is released."

Sio said the compensation demand had been presented to Barrick (PNG) Ltd country manager Dr Illa Temu and other senior managers of the Kainantu operation on Monday.

Barrick Gold is the world's biggest gold miner, with its headquarters in Canada and operations on five continents.

Barrick (PNG) Ltd declined to comment to the newspaper on the compensation demand.

The MP for Kainantu electorate, Sai Sailon Beseo, has questioned the safety measures employed by Barrick at the exploration camp and whether extensive drilling in the area had contributed to the disaster.

"The camp site is a death trap. It was built at the wrong place," Beseo told PNG's Post-Courier newspaper.

He said the camp was located in a disaster-prone area because it was located at the bottom of a hillside where a lot of exploration activities were being carried out on the top.

PNG authorities are investigating the cause of the landslide, which covered about one square kilometre in the isolated mountainous region where Barrick was exploring for gold.

PNG's Highlands are prone to landslides due to the region's often heavy rains and mountainous terrain.


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