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Forecast podcast: Landslide buries thousands in Papua New Guinea

Factal incident map showing the area with the recent landslide

Editors Jimmy Lovaas and Vivian Wang discuss the devastating landslide in Papua New Guinea, plus more on Atlantic hurricane season beginning, an OPEC+ meeting, elections in Mexico and election results in India.

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These stories and others are also available in our free weekly Forecast newsletter.

This episode was produced with work from Factal editors Vivian Wang, Joe Veyera, Alex Moore, Jeff Landset and Awais Ahmad. Produced and edited by Jimmy Lovaas. Music courtesy of Andrew Gospe.

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Factal Forecast podcast transcript

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.


Welcome to the Factal Forecast, a look at the week’s biggest stories and what they mean from the editors at Factal. I’m Jimmy Lovaas.

Today is May 30.

In this week’s forecast we’ve got a deadly landslide in Papua New Guinea, Atlantic hurricane season beginning, an OPEC+ meeting, elections in Mexico and election results in India. 

You can also read about these stories and more in our weekly newsletter, which you can find a link to in the show notes.

Papua New Guinea landslide

Information compiled by Vivian Wang

JIMMY: Up first, we’ll take a look at the deadly landslide in Papua New Guinea. For more on that I’ve got fellow Factal editor Vivian Wang. 

JIMMY: Hello, Vivian.

VIVIAN: Hi, Jimmy.

JIMMY: Glad you’re here. Looking forward to catching up with you about the landslide in Papua New Guinea. So, what can you tell us about it?

VIVIAN: Well I have to preface that information about the landslide is fairly limited and a bit conflicting on just about every front, but here’s what we do know: a huge landslide happened in a remote area of Papua New Guinea’s Enga province last Friday, it buried hundreds, possibly thousands, of people under up to 26 feet of soil and debris. Just six bodies have been recovered so far, but the death toll is expected to be high, and survivors at this point are unlikely.

JIMMY: And what’s the latest? Are there any new developments?

VIVIAN: Well, right now the focus is on recovery and getting survivors and residents nearby the help that they need, along with clearing up access to the affected area. I think they’ve cleared up the highway that the landslide cut off, which had been making getting in and out of there difficult in the initial aftermath. Unrelated to the landslide, a bridge that they were planning to use for transporting cargo to the site collapsed on Tuesday, which adds a two or three hour detour to the journey. And there are also ongoing tribal clashes from these long-standing local feuds in the area, which are still happening despite the disaster – meaning security is necessary for aid convoys, which adds a whole other layer of complexity to relief operations.

JIMMY: What kind of reactions have you seen from all this? 

VIVIAN: Actually, there’s been an interesting reaction from experts and local officials about the scale of the disaster – no one’s downplaying how big the landslide was necessarily, but some experts have raised doubts over the estimated toll, which the Papua New Guinea government has put at 2,000 – general consensus is that the toll is probably lower, maybe in the hundreds. It’s definitely still a major event, it’s just that the numbers and estimates have been tricky on this front. And then Papua New Guinea is Australia’s closest neighbor, and they’ve pledged aid, along with the US and other countries.

JIMMY: Well, considering all that, what do you think folks should be watching for next?

VIVIAN: The most immediate worry now is that there might be a second landslide – the land in that area is still very unstable, and continues to be destabilized by more rain, the digging from people searching for friends and relatives, and water running underneath all the debris. I think geohazard assessments are still going, but officials have mentioned that they’ll probably need to evacuate around 8,000 residents in the area, if they haven’t already. And the slightly longer-term concern is a potential disease outbreak from the combination of decaying bodies and running water under the rubble. And then in general, we’ll continue to see more information come out about the landslide as responders secure access to the site.

JIMMY: Well, Vivian, I guess we’ll pause here for today then, but as always, thanks for getting us up to speed! Appreciate it!

VIVIAN: Thanks for having me on again, Jimmy. 

Hurricane season begins

Information compiled by Joe Veyera

JIMMY: The Atlantic hurricane season begins on Saturday and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is forecasting above-normal activity.

Of course, the 2023 season produced 20 named storms, the fourth-most since 1950 and well above the average of 14. 

That included Category 5 Hurricane Lee and two Category 4 hurricanes – Franklin and Idalia. Those three storms combined led to at least 14 deaths. 

Idalia was the lone hurricane to make landfall in the mainland United States, with an estimated $3 to 4 billion in damage, marking the lowest total since 2015.

Now, NOAA predicts anywhere from 17 to 25 named storms this year, with anywhere from eight to 13 becoming hurricanes. 

According to FOX Weather, the first-named system typically forms around June 20.

OPEC+ meeting

Information compiled by Alex Moore

JIMMY: Members of OPEC+ will meet on Sunday. 

The organization features some of the world’s biggest oil producers and is led by Russia and Saudi Arabia. It is expected to set group-wide production levels for the second half of 2024. 

While initially planning to meet in-person in Vienna, the meeting was changed to a virtual setting in a move that could be tied into questions surrounding the health of Saudi Arabia’s King Salman.

Now, global oil prices are steady heading into the meeting with OPEC+ widely expected to maintain existing supply cuts already in place. 

The production cuts began in November 2022 and have reduced the group’s output of crude oil by nearly 6 million barrels per day. 

Still, the benchmark Brent crude price has hit a three-month low, leaving a cut extension likely.

Mexico elections

Information compiled by Jeff Landset

JIMMY: Mexico will likely elect its first female president on Sunday with the assumption that it will be the current president’s hand-picked successor.

Mexico’s current President Andrés Manuel López Obrador was elected in 2018

Two earlier failed presidential runs led him to form his own political party: MORENA, which has since become a powerhouse in the country. 

“Morenistas” control both houses of Congress and most of the country’s 32 governorships. 

Constitutionally unable to run himself, Lopez Obrador has endorsed Claudia Sheinbaum, the former mayor of Mexico City. 

She has led most polls with more than 50%.

Now, Sheinbaum’s main competitor, Xóchitl Gálvez, says Mexico’s democracy is at stake

While that’s up for debate, if Sheinbaum wins and MORENA attains a supermajority in Congress, it could usher in many of Lopez Obrador’s proposed reforms.

Those include slashing the number of members of Congress, letting the public elect Supreme Court justices by popular vote, and dissolving independent agencies that maintain constitutional checks and balances.

India election results

Information compiled by Awais Ahmad

JIMMY: The outcome of India’s general elections is expected on Tuesday. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party is expected to win a third term.

The staggered six-week election process began on April 19 and the seventh and final phase is scheduled for Saturday. 

More than 8,000 candidates are contesting seats in the largest election in the world which has seen nearly a billion voters head to the polls, in some cases amid a heatwave.

Now, the BJP has been accused of stoking communal tensions through its Hindu-nationalist rhetoric. 

And although Modi and his party are expected to retain power, paving his way for more than a decade at the helm, it remains to be seen whether the results will show a landslide victory as predicted by the party. 

If Modi expands his control to gain supermajority in Parliament, there is the risk he could be changing India’s constitution to the detriment of its minorities.

Still, India’s economic policy and trajectory are unlikely to change focus, regardless of which party comes into power.

JIMMY: As always, thank you for listening to the Factal Forecast. We publish our forward-looking podcast and newsletter each Thursday to help you get a jump-start on the week ahead. Please subscribe and review wherever you find your podcasts. We’d love it if you’d consider telling a friend about us.  

Today’s episode was produced with work from Factal editors Joe Veyera, Alex Moore, Jeff Landset and Awais Ahmad. Our interview featured editor Vivian Wang and our podcast is produced and edited by me – Jimmy Lovaas. Our music comes courtesy of Andrew Gospe.

Until next time, if you have any feedback, suggestions or events we’ve missed, drop us a note by emailing

This transcript may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability not guaranteed. 

Copyright © 2024 Factal. All rights reserved.

Music: ‘Factal Theme’ courtesy of Andrew Gospe

Top photo: Factal incident map of the landslide in Papua New Guinea’s Enga Province (members link)

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