Tuesday May 18 2010

New landslides deaths rise to eight


DEATH TRAP: The scene in Bubyangu Sub-county, Mbale where three children were killed by landslides. PHOTO BY DAVID MAFABI 

By David Mafabi, Uwera Runyambo & Robert Muhereza


Humanitarian agencies were by yesterday still trying to cope with multiple centres of urgent need as a new wave of landslides and floods in various districts rendered at least 1,500 people homeless. The quest for help ran from Mbale, Sironko and Tororo in eastern Uganda to Kabale and Kanungu in western Uganda. At least eight people were confirmed killed by landslides in Mbale, Sironko and Kabale.

The Uganda Red Cross said at least 721 people were camped at Nawire Primary School in Tororo after being forced out of their homes by floods while 630 were camped at Bumatanda Primary School in Sironko District. “We are expecting another 120 families in Bumatanda,” said Ms Catherine Ntabadde, a spokesperson for the Uganda Red Cross, a charity that is helping coordinate humanitarian assistance to the victims. “As the rains continue, more people continue coming,” she told Daily Monitor by telephone from Kampala yesterday.

Ms Ntabadde said the floods and landslides were escalating the danger of water-borne and other sanitation related diseases. She said three case of cholera had been confirmed in Tororo. The latest landslides come barely two months after another devastating landslide struck Nametsi in Bududa burying an entire trading centre of about 350 people.

Three children, two of them from one family, were killed after torrential rains accompanied by hailstorms hit their homes in Bubyangu Sub-county in Mbale District on Saturday night. Amina Nandudu, 13, Juma Kikumi 12 and Siana Namusiru, 4, all residents of Makyese village were discovered two kilometers away from the scene of the landslide after they tried to run away when the torrential rains tore through their house.

The area LCI chairman, Mr Abdu Masokoyi, said the rain started at around 10pm and by midnight, River Makyese had flooded rolling down heavy stones from uphill and knocked the house in which the children were sleeping.

The Red Cross eastern field coordinator, Ms Kevin Nabutuwa, said the mudslides swept through villages of Makyese, Bumadanda, Bunandudu, Bunabuloli, Bukwaga and Makyese trading centre displacing about 320 people. In Sironko, three people were buried by another devastating landslide that struck Bugiboni parish in Bugitimwa Sub-county on the slopes of Mt Elgon.

Kenneth Nasasa, 39, Akisoferi Nabende and David Masoboni, 27, who were walking home after shopping in the nearby trading centre, were buried by the landslide and only discovered later when somebody looking for banana stems saw a torch and a hand of a human being.

“Immediately I saw a hand of a human being, I made an alarm. People came and we started digging. We retrieved the bodies that had broken limbs and shattered heads,” said Mr Atanas Walimbwa, a resident. The Wednesday tragedy that occurred at about 7pm followed by a heavy downpour accompanied by hailstorms in Namawugulu village.

Student killed
Meanwhile in Kabale, Regan Kwarijuka, 20, a second year student at Kabale University breathed his last after a landslide crushed the side of the house he was sleeping in Bukinda Sub-county, Kabale. Charles Mugarura died after running water swept him away as he tried to cross Mukoki Bridge in Kahondo-Maziba Sub-county
State Minister for Disaster Preparedness Musa Ecweru said the heavy rains in the Mt Elgon region signaled greater danger to come. “We have moved around with the local leaders and we have discovered that there are huge cracks along the Elgon Mountain in Manafwa, Bududa, Sironko and parts of Mbale,” said Mr Ecweru.

“We have advised people to relocate from these dangerous areas prone to landslides and the response has been poor. “People seem not to have learnt anything from the Bududa tragedy but our appeal is that people must move away from these areas,” added the junior minister.