17 May 2010

Uganda: Kabale Landslide Kills University Student

Kampala — Three people, one of them a university student, were killed by a landslide and floods, which struck Kabale district on Sunday following a downpour.

Reagan Kwarijuka of Kabale University was crushed dead by debris when boulders from the hilltops crushed his family house. Many family members were seriously injured and rushed to a health centre.

Also dead is Charles Mugaga of Kahondo in Bukinda, whom the floods swept away at a stream near his home.

The other victim was a baby, who was sleeping when the landslides hit their house in Karorwa parish, also in Bukinda sub-county.

Local authorities said about 500 families were displaced.

Adison Kakuru, the MP for Rukiga, said his constituency was "devastated".

The affected families are camped at churches and health centres for shelter.

The Kabale resident district commissioner, Cox Nyakairu, said most roads in the district had been blocked by the landslides, while gardens and property had been destroyed.

The most affected are Bukinda, Maziba in Ndorwa and Muko in Rubanda county.

In Nyabirerema parish of Bukinda, residents were thrown into panic when the mudslides flushed out five caskets from graves. The bodies were re-buried yesterday.

"We are working hard to control the situation. Most roads have been blocked. We are repairing mainly those roads which connect to the highways," Nyakairu said.

He appealed to people near landslide-prone areas such as hilltops to relocate until the torrential rains stop.

The Ndorwa East MP, Wilfred Niwagaba, yesterday visited the areas and appealed to the Government to clear the road that had been blocked by landslides.

He said the bridge, which connects to Bukinda health centre III, had also been destroyed.

Kandago trading centre in Bukinda was severely hit, prompting residents to flee to Kirimbe and Kabimbiri churches.

Johnson Nkensi's house at Kazindiro cell was flattened by landslides, which blocked the Kabale-Rukungiri road.

Hassan Kamugisha, the Kandago trading centre defence secretary, said the people do not have food, shelter and medicine.

Annet Kyomuhendo and her three children were stranded with no food and shelter after their house was submerged by the floods.

Edison Hillman, the Bukinda National Agricultural Advisory Services co-ordinator, said about 5,000 people were affected. He said several hectares of crops were destroyed.

Joseph Maira Mukasa, the Kabale Chief Administrative Officer, explained that the district urgently needed help.

Meanwhile, in Rukungiri, most passengers were stranded after the road in Nyakagyeme sub-county, which connects Rukungiri to Kanungu district, was destroyed.

Passengers were stuck after two buses and a few trucks got stuck in the mud at Kamujegye at Omunengo (rift valley escarpment) in Rwerere, Nyakagyeme sub-county.

"Things are bad. Most passengers are still trapped," said James Rukuma, a conductor of Perfect Coaches.

According to Rukuma, some passengers abandoned the buses and walked for about 5km to the drier part of Rwerere where motorists set up a new taxi terminal.

Efforts to clear the road had stalled after the tyre of a tractor excavator sent to the area burst.

Gateway and Muhabura coaches suspended the Kampala-Butogota route until the road is cleared, officials said yesterday.

Pascal Rwakahanda, a businessman, was stranded with his merchandise at Swift Bus Park in Kisenyi in Kampala. "Most buses are reluctant to travel to Kanungu after the road was cut off by landslides on Sunday," Rwakahanda said.

However, the regional Police commander, Olive Wawaire, said the Government had dispatched road equipment from Kabale to Rukungiri to clear the blocked road.

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