At least 34 killed in mud­slides


KAM­PALA, Uganda — At least 34 peo­ple died in mud­slides trig­gered by tor­ren­tial rains in a moun­tain­ous area of east­ern Uganda that is prone to such disasters, a Red Cross of­fi­cial said Fri­day.

More vic­tims were likely to be dis­cov­ered when res­cue reams ac­cess all the af­fected ar­eas in the foothills of Mount El­gon, said Red Cross spokes­woman Irene Nakasi­ita.

Peo­ple were killed by boul­ders and chunks of mud rolling down hills fol­low­ing a sus­tained pe­riod of heavy rains Thurs­day af­ter­noon in the district of Bududa. Houses were de­stroyed in at least three vil­lages, and in some cases only body parts of the vic­tims have been re­cov­ered from the mud, she said.

“We ex­pect the death toll to in­crease as some peo­ple are still miss­ing,” she said. “It’s re­ally bad.”

A river that runs through the area burst its banks, de­stroy­ing a bridge and threat­en­ing set­tle­ments nearby, ac­cord­ing to Martin Owor, a govern­ment com­mis­sioner in charge of disas­ter man­age­ment.

At least 31 bodies had been re­cov­ered and iden­ti­fied, Owor said.

It was dif­fi­cult to establish the num­ber of dead be­cause it had been a busy mar­ket day, law­maker God­frey Watenga Nabu­tanyi of Luteshe County told broad­caster NTV. “Bridges are gone. Roads have been cut off.”

Lo­cal of­fi­cial Wil­son Watila es­ti­mated that about 100 houses had been swept away.

Res­i­dents wept over re­cov­ered bodies, while men dug into the mud with blunt pieces of wood in des­per­ate ef­forts to find oth­ers.

One sur­vivor de­scribed run­ning to safety with a friend af­ter spot­ting a house be­ing wiped away by the mud­slide.

“School chil­dren, those who were drink­ing, mar­ket ven­dors, they were all swept away,” Paul Odoki said.

In March 2010 at least 100 peo­ple died in sim­i­lar mud­slides in Bududa, and in­juries or deaths have been re­ported ev­ery year since then dur­ing the wet sea­son.

Ef­forts by Uganda’s govern­ment over the years to re­lo­cate all res­i­dents away from steep slopes have not suc­ceeded. There also have been calls for peo­ple to plant more trees on steep hill­sides.


Res­i­dents look at a river filled with mud in Bududa, Uganda, on Fri­day, af­ter mud­slides killed at least 34 peo­ple.

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