A landslide killed at least 18 people and buried at least 15 houses in two hamlets following torrential rains in eastern Uganda, a region affected by similar disasters in the past, the Red Cross said Monday.
“Eighteen people have so far been confirmed dead,” spokeswoman Catherine Ntabadde told AFP, adding the toll could rise as searches intensified in villages in the mountainous Bududa district near the border with Kenya.
“We know that at least 15 houses have been buried but we do not know how many people were inside them,” Ntabadde said.
The landslide ripped through the villages of Namaga and Bunakasala in the foothills of Mount Elgon which straddles the border with Kenya.
Ntabadde said emergency teams were searching the site to try to establish the number of people killed in the slide but that local authorities estimate around 80 people live in each hamlet.
This is the third time eastern Uganda has been hit by deadly mudslides in three years. Last year two dozen people were buried alive when mud engulfed their homes in Mabono village.
In March 2010, a mudslide in the same district as Monday’s is estimated to have killed more than 300 people.
After that incident the Ugandan authorities said they would resettle around half a million people living in mountainous areas to lessen the risk of mudslides.
Some 300,000 from the eastern Mount Elgon region were to be affected, together with a further 200,000 from the mountainous areas of western Uganda.
As of the end of last year however, no such large-scale resettlement programmes were under way.
The government had built houses for 100 of the 600 families left homeless by the 2010 mudslide, with the remaining 500 families relocated but in temporary shelters. – Sapa-AFP