Ethiopia: Frantic search for survivors in garbage dump landslide

Rescuers at the scene of the garbage dump landslide in Ethiopia
Rescuers at the scene of the garbage dump landslide in Ethiopia

Rescue workers are searching for survivors of a landslide that has killed 62 people at a vast dump in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa.

Officials say the death toll for the Saturday night landslide at the Koshe landfill is likely to rise. A resident said 150 people were there at the time.

A number of makeshift houses are now buried under tonnes of waste.

The area has been a dumping ground for Addis Ababa’s rubbish for more than five decades.

Rescuers are using bulldozers and even bare hands to move tonnes of debris as the search for survivors and dead bodies continues.


At least 10 more bodies have been recovered on Monday.

City authorities say dozens of people are still unaccounted for and could be buried under the rubble.

Dozens of others have been treated and discharged from a local hospital.

Communications Minister Negeri Lencho told the BBC that the government had appealed to the residents to leave the dump:

“We had plans to resettle the people. Unfortunately this landslide occurred in the meantime.

“But now more than 290 people living in the area have been relocated. We plan to support them so that they can live in a safe zone.”

Katsela Mengistu, a 50-year-old father of two, is among hundreds of residents who have gathered at the site, waiting and watching anxiously for news about his family:

“I am just here waiting for news of my family members; my wife and two children – a boy and a girl. They are all buried under this landslide. The government is helping so we will just have to wait,” Mr Katsela told our reporter.

Families that lived in makeshift houses near the area have gathered at the scene to seek information about missing relatives even as hopes fade of finding anyone alive.

Many of them are huddled in small groups talking in low tones, others crying and sobbing loudly.

Hundreds of people attempt to make a living here by scavenging at the landfill site, sifting through the rubbish for items they can sell.

Some people even resided at the rubbish dump permanently.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn has offered his condolences to grieving families assuring them of a full investigation of the incident once rescue operations are completed.

The authorities have been building Africa’s first waste-to-energy plant near the landfill.

They plan to burn rubbish generated by the capital’s estimated four million people and convert it into electricity.

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