A devastating natural disaster in Uganda has caused the tragic loss of at least 34 people. Incessant, heavy torrential rains in a mountainous area of Eastern Uganda have led to mudslides which have destroyed the lives of people and ravaged a lot of property.
A Red Cross official said that the area is always susceptible to disasters of this nature. Rescue teams have not yet fully accessed all the affected areas in the foothills of Mount Elgon. Red Cross spokeswoman, Irene Nakasiita, said that more victims were likely to be discovered when rescue teams have accessed all the affected areas.
Boulders and chunks of mud rolling down hills led to the deaths of people. There was a sustained period of heavy rains Thursday afternoon in the district of Bududa. In at least three villages, houses were seriously destroyed. The situation is bad such that, in some cases, only body parts of the victims have been recovered from the mud, according to Irene Nakasiita.
"We expect the death toll to increase as some people are still missing," she said. "It's really bad."
A river that runs through the area burst its banks, destroying a bridge and threatening settlements nearby, according to Martin Owor, a government commissioner in charge of disaster management. Owor said that at least 31 bodies had been recovered and identified.
Luteshe County lawmaker, Godfrey Watenga Nabutanyi, said that it was difficult to fully ascertain the number of dead bodies due to the issue that it was a busy market day. "Bridges are gone. Roads have been cut off," he said.
A local official, Wilson Watila, estimated that about 100 houses had been swept away. The gravity of the disaster is serious. Residents wept over recovered bodies, while men dug into the mud with blunt pieces of wood in desperate efforts to find others.
One survivor gave a brief description of how he eluded danger, together with his friend. Upon seeing a house being swept away, they immediately ran to safety. "School children, those who were drinking, market vendors, they were all swept away," Paul Odoki said.
Disasters of this nature are not new to the district of Bududa. In March 2010, at least 100 people died in similar mudslides in Bududa, and injuries or deaths have been reported every year since then during the wet season.
Uganda has been making efforts to relocate residents who reside in areas which have steep slopes, but the attempts are having little results. As a cautionary measure, there have been calls for people to start planting more trees on steep slopes.
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