Uganda: Bugisu Landslides Death Toll Rises to 16

10 December 2019

At least 16 bodies have so far been recovered after landslides swept villages in the mountainous districts of Sironko and Bududa in Bugisu sub-region last Tuesday.

Ten bodies were retrieved from the rubble in Naposhi and Namasa villages in Bushika Sub County and two from Naroko in Bunabutiti Sub County. Four bodies were recovered from Bunagisa Village, Bumumulo Parish in Zesui Sub County.

The bodies were retrieved in Bududa by excavators, while in Sironko they were retrieved by residents using hand hoes.

Ms Sylvia Namutosi, a 36-year-old resident who lost her seven family members in the landslide said she has been able to find three.

"I thank God that out of seven of my family members we have buried three; this has strengthened us and indicated that we will find all of them to conduct a decent burial for them," she said.

According to leaders and residents in both districts, more than 60 people are feared dead while scores are missing. Also, more than 500 displaced families have sought refuge in churches and schools.

The landslides which were a result of heavy rains destroyed property and houses, and swept away crops and an unspecified number of animals.

Mr Francis Kutosi, the chairperson LC1 Naposhi village, said the excavators are doing their best in the search for bodies.

"I appreciate the rescue team because they are so committed and we believe that if the excavator is given more days our people will be recovered," he said.

Bududa District Chairman, Mr Wilson Watira said the residents in the affected places needs to be relocated to safer areas.

"The displaced people should stay in schools, churches and trading centers as they wait for help. We don't want to lose more people," said Mr Watira.

In Sironko, the displaced residents who have sought refuge at Bugimagu Primary School have accused government for neglecting them.

Mr Patrick Kahenje, the Bugimagu primary school camp leader, says that the OPM has not delivered relief items to the victims since the disaster occurred.

"OPM and district officials have not stepped here since the disaster occurred and yet we have a number of challenges here including food, bedding, shelter, and bed sheets. The government has neglected us. They have left us to suffer especially children," said Mr Kahenje.

"We are not eating, bathing and we don't have medication. Some of our friends are sick," he added.

Sironko District Woman MP, Ms Florence Nambozo Mayoga who visited the landslide victims on Sunday at Bugimagu Primary school, also accused the OPM and other leaders of neglecting the displaced people in Sironko.

"We passed money to cater for disasters and I am wondering why OPM has not delivered relief items to my people," she said.

Ms Nambozo who delivered about 600 kgs of maize flour, and 200kgs of rice to the victims was shocked to hear that even the district disaster committee had not come to the scene to assess the damage and help people. The Commissioner for Disaster Preparedness in the OPM, Mr Martin Owori declined to comment on the matter.

However, the Sironko Disaster Committee Head, Mr Robert Nambadi said the victims are going to get relief, while Hon. Musa Ecweru, Minister of State for Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees, said the government will give Shs500,000 per body to cater for burial arrangements. He further appreciated the youths for their humanitarian work at the scene such as searching, carrying bodies and conducting burials.

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