At least 34 people have been killed by mudslides and falling boulders in Uganda, triggered by heavy rain.
The landslide swept debris through a town in eastern Uganda, destroying homes and burying livestock, a government official said today.
Torrential floodwaters followed heavy rains which struck Bukalasi, on the slopes of Mount Elgon, yesterday afternoon.
A picture tweeted by Uganda Red Cross showed uprooted and twisted trees, with the aid agency adding that both ‘animals and people were swept away in this disaster’.
At least 34 people have been killed by the landslide, which caused large boulders, mud and pieces of rock to fall through the area
Red Cross spokeswoman Irene Nakasiita today that more victims are likely to be discovered when rescue reams access all the affected areas in the foothills of Mountain Elgon.
She said people were killed by boulders and chunks of mud rolling down hills following a sustained period of heavy rains on Thursday afternoon in the district of Bududa.
Martin Owor, the Commissioner for Disaster Preparedness and Management, said relief teams were combing the area to search and rescue survivors.
He added: ‘Most of the people were caught at the market, the landslide pushed huge boulders into a river which burst its banks and the water swept away the people.
Homes were destroyed and animals buried by the landslide as it swept through the foothills of Mountain Elgon in eastern Uganda
‘There are people who were displaced and they need shelter, food and all other support and we’re moving that relief to the area.’
The mountainous area of eastern Uganda that is prone to similar disasters – in March 2010 at least 100 people died in similar mudslides in Bududa.
Efforts by Uganda’s government over the years to relocate people have not succeeded.
The rainy season in that part of Uganda, about 155 miles (250 km) from the capital Kampala and close to the Kenyan border, runs from September to December.
An avalanche in the same area in 2010 killed at least 80 people.
A bull was dragged by running water to a valley by the torrential mudslide caused by heavy floodwaters
Large swaths on the slopes of Ugandan mountains have been stripped of their forests and other vegetation cover for cultivable land, increasing the risk of landslides.
Officials have previously said there were plans to move people away from some of the most vulnerable areas, but those relocations have yet to be carried out.
Many of the East African country’s mountainous regions, also including areas in the southwest and west near the borders with Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo, often experience landslides at this time of the year if rains are unusually heavy.