BANGKOK (NEWSnet/AP) — Papua New Guinea’s government said more than 2,000 people are believed to have been buried in a landslide that occurred early Friday near Yambali.

The settlement is located in a remote area, making the search-and-rescue effort complicated and hazardous.

Luseta Laso Mana, acting director of Papua New Guinea's National Disaster Center, said the landslide caused “major destruction” in the Enga province.

The remains of six people have been recovered so far.

The village is in a mountainous, forested area, alongside a winding highway to the town of Porgera. The highway was covered by the landslide, cutting off Porgera and other villages from Wabag, 35 miles from the disaster site. Emergency responders have delievered aid from Wabag, but had to make the final 200 yards of the journey on foot over the rubble-covered highway.

Debris 20 to 26 feet deep, covering an area the size of three or four football fields, was being cleared with shovels and picks for more than two days, until an excavator arrived Sunday. Survivors have been hesitant to allow heavy machinery to be used, because they do not want bodies of relatives harmed, said Serhan Aktoprak, chief of the U.N. migration agency’s mission in Papua New Guinea.

Military engineers with additional equipment are being transported to the scene.

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