Families in Yambali village in Papua New Guinea were sleeping peacefully in their beds when a "mountain" of rubble buried them alive in a gigantic landslide, said a U.N. rescue worker at the disaster site and the country's prime minister.

For five days now those that survived have been using shovels and bare hands to dig through mud and debris almost two storeys high, and covering three to four football fields in area, which has buried an estimated 2,000 people.

Rescue officials say chances of finding survivors are slim.