Tags: Uganda | dead | landslide | hundreds

Scores of Dead Likely in Uganda Landslides

Tuesday, 02 March 2010 11:04 AM

KAMPALA — Some 350 people were missing Tuesday after a landslide sparked by torrential rains devastated villages in eastern Uganda, the head of the country's Red Cross said.

The overnight landslide buried homes in a mountainous region where rescuers and volunteers have pulled 55 bodies out of the mud, Uganda Red Cross Secretary General Michael Nataka told AFP.

Nataka said "350 people in three villages of Bududa district have been buried following an intense landslide resulting from the ongoing heavy downpour."

Local markets were destroyed, schools forced to close and roads blocked as the heaps of earth slid from higher ground following days of heavy rain, Nataka explained.

"The military has also been called in to help in the rescue operation," he added.

Widespread flooding also affected several other villages in the region near Mount Elgon, which straddles the Uganda-Kenya border, the Red Cross chief said.

However, there were no immediate reports of casualties in these other areas stricken by the disaster, according to the Red Cross.

Earlier, State Minister for Disaster Musa Ecweru said that more than 40 bodies had been recovered from the mud, but many were still missing.

"We have brought reinforcements and rescuers to the place," Ecweru said. "The whole area is covered in mud."

Local municipal official Wilson Watila also said the landslide buried people across villages in the densely populated Bududa district.

Watila added that "many others are still buried underground because of heavy rain."

"The whole area is threatened and we are telling people to leave immediately," he said.

Uganda is currently experiencing unusually heavy downpours in the annual rainy season.

Houses built on mountain slopes have been swept off by the mud and peoples' belongings were seen floating on flood waters, Nataka told AFP.

The east Africa country's eastern region is prone to landslides as well as the western region near the Rwenzori Mountains.

In 2008, thousands of people in northern Uganda were displaced from their homes due to heavy rains.

Copyright © 2010 AFP. All rights reserved.

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Tuesday, 02 March 2010 11:04 AM
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