15 April 2020

Kegesuglo: a deadly landslide in Papua New Guinea on Friday 10 April 2020

Posted by Dave Petley

Kegesuglo: a deadly landslide in Papua New Guinea on Friday 10 April 2020

On Friday 10 April 2020 a large landslide was triggered, probably by rainfall at Kegesuglo in Kundiawa-Gembog district in Papua New Guinea.  The location of this landslide appears to be -5.833, 145.1.  This is a remote, hilly location at the foot of Mount Wilhelm, the highest mountain in Papua New Guinea.  It’s worth noting that in some reports the village is named Keglsugl.

The Watchers has a report about the impact of the landslide:-

A major landslide hit the Kegesuglo area in the district of Kundiawa-Gembogl, Papua New Guinea, on Friday, April 10, 2020, resulting in at least 10 fatalities and widespread damage. Eight of the bodies were retrieved over the weekend, while the last two were recovered on Monday, April 13.

Homes, gardens, livestock and fish farms in the village of Duanigle Gowe were destroyed. According to Sieland Hermann Banda, a physiotherapist with the Kundiawa General Hospital, the landslide took place near the Mount Wilhelm Secondary School.

“Two of the houses of the staff of the Mount Wilhelm Secondary School were affected. One of them is a senior teacher who has taught for more than 30 years here at Mt Wilhelm Secondary School, and he is dead with three kids and left the wife with the other two kids,” Banda explained.

The same article includes this image of the landslide, which gives an impression of the scale:-

Kegesuglo landslide

The aftermath of the landslide at Kegesuglo in Papua New Guinea on 10 April 2020. Image from The Watchers, taken by Sieland Hermann Banda


Collecting satellite imagery in Papua New Guinea is very challenging because the skies are so often covered in cloud, by Planet Labs did succeed in acquiring an image of the landslide on 11 April 2020, the day after the landslide:-

Planet Labs image of the Kegesuglo landslide

A Planet Labs image of the Kegesuglo landslide in Papua New Guinea. Image acquired on 11 April 2020, copyright Planet Labs, used with permission.


This is a landslide that appears to have had quite high mobility (the runout distance is about 2 km), probably because it has channelised.

Reference and acknowledgement

Planet Team (2020). Planet Application Program Interface: In Space for Life on Earth. San Francisco, CA. https://www.planet.com/