92 bodies found, 320 still missing in Uganda's landslide

11:01, March 05, 2010      

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By Samuel Egadu

The Ugandan government on Thursday said the death toll of the landslide in a hilly area in eastern part of the country has risen to 92 as rescue operation entered the third day.

David Wakikona, Uganda's state minister for northern Uganda and MP for the disaster-hit area told reporters here that over 320 people are still missing and feared dead in Bududa district after the landslide covering an area of 200 meters came down and swept away three villages.

Only 84 survivors have so far been accounted for, he said.

"On Wednesday, we buried the first 77 bodies. Late last evening (Wednesday) another 15 bodies were recovered by the military," said Wakikona.

"We have failed to trace 320 people still missing. As we speak, there is no hope for more survivors," he said.

The landslide following torrential rains on Monday night engulfed Nametsi, Kubehwo and Namangasa villages, Bukalasi sub- county, Bududa district.

Wakikona said the government is looking for land in Kayunga district in eastern Uganda and Nakapiripirit district in the northeast to relocate the 10,000 residents in danger of landslide.

"We don't want to lose more lives as we expect rains to continue up to May," he said, noting that those who were reluctant to leave their homes would face compulsory relocation.

"Even if the residents say their ancestral parents were born and buried there. We shall apply safety force to relocate them to save lives," he said.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on Wednesday visited the landslide sites and ordered for the relocation of the residents in risky areas.

The minister revealed that there are already signs that another landslide is likely to occur as the mountain has developed several cracks.

The government has opened three emergency relocation centers in Bududa district as landslide may affect several neighboring districts in the mountainous region. Six other districts in eastern and western Uganda are currently affected by floods.

Jannifer Namuyangu, Uganda's state minister for water told reporters on Thursday that there is a likelihood of near normal to above normal rainfall over most parts of western, central, eastern Uganda and Lake Victoria basin between March and May.

"There are high chances that flooding will once again occur in flood prone areas of central, eastern and western Uganda. The landslides are likely to occur in mountainous regions of western, southern and eastern Uganda with strong gusty winds, hailstorms and lightening," she said.

Experts have warned that global climate change has been changing the rainfall pattern in the East African country from regular and moderate to more unexpected and extreme, raising risks of natural disasters like floods, landslides and prolonged draught.

Source: Xinhua
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