updated 1/23/2006 8:57:28 PM ET 2006-01-24T01:57:28

A landslide sent mud and boulders smashing through a remote village in Papua New Guinea, killing at least eight people and leaving five more missing and feared dead, an emergency service official said Tuesday.

The landslide swept through the village of Bapa, 75 miles north of the capital Port Moresby, on Friday night after weeks of rain soaked the area, the Morobe Province disaster coordinator Tera Gauba told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

News of the extent of the devastation and loss of life in the remote and inaccessible region only emerged Tuesday in Port Moresby.

Rescuers were digging through the wrecked village hunting for survivors but feared the five missing people will not be found alive, Gauba said.

Villagers living in huts along the Bindang River fled when the landslide hit and were sheltering in tents set up by rescuers, he said.

A total of 13 houses along the river were destroyed, and the landslide also swept away crops and livestock.

“Only the houses immediately along the bank were affected,” Gauba said. “The houses away from the river, they’re OK.”

Roads leading to the village have been closed due to heavy rain but rescue crews have supplied villagers with food, medicine and digging equipment.

Among the dead were a baby, the child’s mother and two 7-year-old children, Gauba said.

Papua New Guinea is an impoverished Pacific islands nation of 5.5 million people immediately north of Australia. It is regularly hit by mudslides and earthquakes.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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