Rescue operations underway at the Koshe dump. PIC/AP
Addis Ababa: At least 50 people died and dozens more were hurt in a giant landslide at Ethiopia's largest rubbish dump outside Addis Ababa, a tragedy, which squatters living there blamed on a biogas plant being built nearby.
The landslide that took place late on Saturday flattened dozens of homes of people living in the Koshe dump when part of the largest pile of rubbish collapsed.
Dagmawit Moges, head of the city communications bureau, yesterday confirmed that over 48 people had died — 32 female and 14 male, including some children. Many of the victims were squatters who scavenged for a living in the dump, she said.
Musa Suleiman Abdulah, who lost his wooden shack topped with plastic sheeting in the disaster, said when it happened, he heard "a big sound".
"When we came out, something like a tornado is rushing to us. We started to collect family members and escape," he said. "People helped. My child and family left before the destruction happened."
The streets in the neighbourhood below were filled with women sobbing and wailing. Bystanders said there were still people trapped under collapsed mounds of rubbish, but police were preventing locals from getting close to the site.
Just six people were seen digging through the rubbish on Sunday looking for survivors and bodies.
For more than 40 years the Koshe site has been the main dump for Addis Ababa, a rapidly growing city of some four million people. According to local residents, some 50 houses were built on the trash.