Christian Pilgrimage In PNG Turns To Tragedy
Dozens lose their way with limited food or shelter
AChristian celebration has turned to tragedy in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea after some 30 people — including children — got lost in the mountainous terrain 10 days ago carrying only limited food or shelter.
Rescue workers were notified about the situation after some of the travellers made it down from the mountain over the weekend and reported that dozens were still trapped.
A helicopter rescue mission has been underway since yesterday, but the incident has already claimed the lives of at least eleven of the travellers, including a local pastor, whose body was recovered on Sunday. Three others remain unaccounted for in the area.
The group set off 10 days ago, attempting to reach a religious celebration in the town of Kabwum, but became lost in the Saruwaged Ranges of Morobe Province. Helicopter pilot Jurgen Ruh said his team managed to rescue eight people on Sunday, adding that he would be back in the air again to drop off food and try and help those still stuck on the mountain.
“We can only lift three people at a time,” Mr Ruh told the ABC. He described the terrain as tough, with an elevation of up to 10,000 feet and with temperatures dropping to as low as 8 degrees overnight.
“It’s cold and the weather is bad — they are not prepared for the altitude and the freezing weather,” Mr Ruh said.