Mas­sive land­slide kills 34 in Uganda

● Dan­ger re­mains as rain con­tin­ues in high-risk area

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - World - Michael O’Hagan

At least 34 peo­ple were killed af­ter a river in east­ern Uganda burst its banks, send­ing thick sludge and rocks bar­relling into homes, disas­ter of­fi­cials said on Fri­day.

Res­cue teams were pick­ing through the rub­ble, look­ing for sur­vivors and vic­tims of the disas­ter which took place on Thurs­day in the town of Bukalasi in the Bududa district.

An un­known num­ber of peo­ple were still miss­ing.

“I can con­firm 34 peo­ple are dead. We have to wait for our as­sess­ment to be com­pleted be­fore we can say how many are miss­ing,” said Uganda Red Cross spokesper­son Irene Nakasi­ita.

On Thurs­day she shared pho­tos on What­sApp of the scene of what she de­scribed as a mas­sive land­slide, in­clud­ing images of dis­mem­bered corpses caked in mud laid out by the river.

Some of the bodies had been partly cov­ered with ba­nana leaves by mem­bers of the

Four to five vil­lages, and pos­si­bly a pri­mary school have been af­fected

pub­lic. “The cause was the river burst­ing its banks up­stream fol­low­ing heavy rain.

“When the wa­ter flowed down, it brought a num­ber of big stones with it that de­stroyed peo­ple’s houses,” Nakasi­ita said.

“Our search and res­cue team is still on the ground evac­u­at­ing peo­ple and re­mov­ing them from the rub­ble.”

She said the Red Cross was send­ing re­lief sup­plies to the area, such as tar­pau­lins, blan­kets and wa­ter pu­rifi­ca­tion tablets.

Nathan Tu­muhamye, di­rec­tor of an or­gan­i­sa­tion that helps com­mu­ni­ties re­cover from nat­u­ral disasters and con­flict, said that four to five vil­lages, and pos­si­bly a pri­mary school, had been af­fected.

“I have re­ceived the sad news of land­slides wreak­ing havoc in Bududa district. The govern­ment has dis­patched res­cue teams to the af­fected ar­eas,” Pres­i­dent Yow­eri Mu­sev­eni wrote on Twit­ter.

He said the govern­ment was look­ing at other op­tions to help pre­vent more disasters.

Bududa district in the foothills of Mount El­gon, which lies on the bor­der be­tween Uganda and Kenya, is a high-risk area for land­slides.

At least 100 peo­ple were re­ported killed in a land­slide in Bududa in March 2010, and in 2012 land­slides de­stroyed three vil­lages.

Govern­ment ef­forts to move vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple to neigh­bour­ing dis­tricts have faced re­sis­tance from res­i­dents.

Govern­ment me­te­o­rol­o­gist God­frey Mu­juni said it was the River Sume, a trib­u­tary of the River Manafwa, that had burst its banks.

“The rains are still com­ing and the govern­ment and NGOs need to keep their pre­pared­ness lev­els high.”

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