At least 62 people killed in rubbish dump landslide in Ethiopia

Hundreds live on 50-year-old dump scavenging for food and items to sell

A landslide at a garbage dump on the outskirts of the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa kills at least 48 people who were scavenging for food and recyclable goods. Video: Reuters

 

The death toll following the collapse of a mountain of rubbish at a garbage dump on the outskirts of Ethiopia’s capital has reached 62, officials said, as relatives waited for news of the dozens said to be missing.

It was not clear what caused Saturday night’s collapse, although residents have said the dumping of rubbish had resumed there in recent months after protests at a newer landfill site.

Weeping mourners clutching photos of the dead lined the narrow roads around the Koshe landfill site as police tried to block people from entering, while rescue and recovery work continued.

Most of the dead are women and children.

Hundreds of waste-pickers work at the landfill site every day, and others used it as a site for low-cost housing.

Many of the mud-and-stick homes were buried under the rubble, and about 54 people so far have received medical treatment, said Solomon Bussa, the chief of clinical services at the Alert Hospital where the injured have been taken.

Bathing her children

One survivor, Mulate Debebe, said she had been bathing her two children on Saturday evening at their home inside the landfill when disaster struck.

“First I heard a loud and scary sound outside, so I told my husband to go outside and check what that was,” she said from a hospital bed.

“Then the sound gets bigger and bigger so I tried to move out quickly, but I was caught up in the middle of the rubble.

“The next thing I know was that I was in this hospital’s bed.

“Now I don’t know the fate of my children and my husband.”

Covering her face to hide her tears, she said she makes a living selling candles at a nearby church with her disabled husband.

“I lived at that place for the past 11 years and I’ve never seen anything like this,” she said of the landfill.

“My legs are badly hurt. I’m not sure I will ever walk again.

“And now I’m being told by nurses at this hospital to evacuate the emergency room. I don’t where to go next.”

An Addis Ababa city official, Dagmawit Moges, said a private funeral for some of the dead would be held later on Monday.

Fifty years

The landfill site has been a dumping ground for the capital’s garbage for more than 50 years.

Smaller collapses have occurred at Koshe - or “dirty” in the local Amharic language - in the past two years but only two or three people were killed, residents said.

Addis Ababa’s mayor has vowed to relocate those living at the site, which officials say receives close to 300,000 tons of waste each year from the capital.

Mr Moges said 300 people had been relocated since the collapse.

AP