Garbage dump landslide death toll rises to 46 in Ethiopia

A photo taken on March 12, 2017 shows a view of the main landfill of Addis Ababa on the outskirts of the city, after a landslide at the dump left dozens dead (PHOTO: gettyimages)
A photo taken on March 12, 2017 shows a view of the main landfill of Addis Ababa on the outskirts of the city, after a landslide at the dump left dozens dead (PHOTO: gettyimages)

A landslide at a landfill in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa has killed at least 46 people and leaving several dozen missing, spokeswoman in the mayor’s office said on Sunday.

The accident at the large garbage disposal area occurred on Saturday, burying makeshift houses and concrete buildings.

The initial death toll was reported at 35, with 37 people missing, but rescue workers recovered more bodies in the rubble, Spokeswoman Dagmawit Moges said, adding that 32 of the victims were women.

“We expect to discover more bodies but we foresee a decline in the number as most of the excavations are being completed,” said Moges, head of the city’s communications department.

“The number of people missing was still unclear”, she said.

Most of the injured were treated for minor wounds and quickly discharged from hospital. Two people were seriously injured and remain hospitalized under intensive care.

“All my brothers and sisters were rescued but my mother is not answering her phone – she could still be inside that rubble,” said Ruth Tadesee, who lives on the landfill with her family.

Known as Koshe, the Amharic word for “dirty,” the landfill has been used as a dumping ground by Addis Ababa residents for more than 50 years.

Some have blamed recent political unrest for unsafe conditions there.

The city plans to relocate people living near and around the waste site as a result of the accident, Addis Ababa mayor Diriba Kuma said on Sunday.

City officials stopped using the landfill several years ago, but were recently forced to resume dumping at the site after farmers living in a politically restive region blocked entry to a newly built landfill.

Anti-government protests have rocked Ethiopia since 2015, particularly in the Oromia region, which includes Addis Ababa.

Protesters from the Oromo ethnic group say they feel excluded from political and economic power.

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