Chris­tian Pil­grim­age In PNG Turns To Tragedy

Dozens lose their way with lim­ited food or shel­ter

Fiji Sun - - Aust/nz/pacifc News - ABC Feed­back: jy­[email protected]­jisun.com.fj

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.

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