Hundreds Missing in Uganda Landslides

Rivers of mud swamped houses, stores and at least one school after heavy rains in the mountainous eastern region of Bududa, Uganda, killing at least 100 people with some 300 still missing.

Rains that began Monday evening continued through the night, triggering landslides in the Bududa region, 275 kilometres east of Kampala. The landslides moved through three villages overnight.

Wilson Watira, a district chairman, said that rescuers had recovered 70 bodies by Tuesday evening but that around 250 people were still missing.

One survivor said he was at a church service when the rains began. “All of a sudden the church collapsed. Mud covered the whole place. Five people seated next to me died. I only survived because my head was above the mud,” James Kasawi, 20 years old, said from a hospital in Bududa, where he was recovering from a broken leg and arm. (Wall Street Journal)

Joel Aguma, a regional police commander, said rescue workers and police travelled to the site Tuesday to assess the damage and help survivors. Police and army forces were working to recover bodies in the remote villages, which officials said a were three-hour walk from a main highway. Rescuers are digging through the mud with handheld tools, looking for survivors and bodies.

Up to 60 children are missing. They took shelter in a health centre which reports say was destroyed.

Minister for Disaster Preparedness Musa Ecweru has gone to the area to asses what help is needed. Mr. Ecweru said he had counted 58 bodies himself but local officials had told him at least 106 people have died. He said the government has provided 100 coffins “to give the dead citizens a very decent burial.” (BBC)

Bududa has long suffered from landslides but rarely has the death toll been so high.

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