Uganda landslides destroy three villages

 

Massive landslides induced by torrential rains destroyed three villages in the mountainous district of Bududa in eastern Uganda, killing scores of people but possibly hundreds, officials said today.

Disaster Preparedness Minister Stephen Mallinga said it was still too early to say how many had been killed in today's landslides, but officials from Bududa said the final death toll would likely be in the hundreds.

"We are sending a rescue team down there," Mallinga said. "It's very difficult to estimate how many have been killed, but two villages are affected, and maybe more."

Witnesses said the landslides were unexpected, happening several hours after a torrential overnight downpour that at first seemed to have done little damage.

David Wakikona, a lawmaker from the region, said most people were likely indoors when huge blocks of mud and rocks started to roll down hills, toppling homes, killing livestock and burying people alive.

"We don't yet understand how this all happened, but it's terrible," Wakikona said. "Three villages have been buried."

According to Wakikona, at least 300 people lived in the affected villages. Officials said rescue teams from the Ugandan army would play a lead role in moving the soil as the search for possible survivors begins.

The Uganda Red Cross said two villages had been destroyed and that at least 15 houses had been buried in the landslides. It may take time before the full death toll from such disasters is known, as often it requires rescuers working with hoes and shovels to dig through the mud and find bodies trapped underneath.

Landslides are a common occurrence in the hilly parts of eastern Uganda, and they have been especially lethal over the years in those villages where the land is denuded of vegetation cover. In 2010 massive landslides in Bududa killed about 100 people, destroying everything from the village market to a church.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who visited the scene, said at the time that the landslides were divine retribution for the people's failure to give to the land what they take from it. The villages are usually heavily populated, and often they live on land bare of trees.

There has been fierce resistance to a government effort to relocate the most vulnerable people in Bududa and neighboring districts, with some activists there saying it would be even more disastrous to abandon their ancestral homes. Even those who were relocated to a camp for refugees after the 2010 landslides secretly returned to Bududa, said Mallinga, the disaster preparedness minister.

"There's a degree of unwillingness to leave," Mallinga said.

PA

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea