see geneva; font-size: small;”>At least 200 people were on Monday feared dead when a devastating land slide buried four villages of Bunakasala, drug Bunamulembwa, Mabaya and Walwanyi in Bumwalukani Parish,Bulucheke Sub County.
“We have called off rescue operations. The focus is on recovery of bodies, assessment of the needs of the displaced and provision of humanitarian assistance,” says Dr. Stephen Mallinga, Minister For Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees.
In a statement, Mallinga says it is feared the landslides and floods buried about 29 homes with about 30 people.
“We cannot as of now establish the exact number of homes and people buried. Assessments are on-going to establish the exact numbers. 10 people- have been rescued and admitted in Bududa Hospital,” he adds.
The minister says so far 70 houses neighbouring the tragedy site have been assessed damaged and too risky to live in.
He also notes that a population of 220 people is displaced and has been advised to stay with relatives and friends in safe locations from where humanitarian assistance will be delivered.
The landslide washed away everything in an area measuring 200 metres wide and
300 metres long, according to the Minister.
“The tragedy happened following a heavy rainfall the previous two nights and several weeks of rain in the area. Warning signals of the tragedy in form of cracks on the ground with creeping sounds were heard by the population during the night of Sunday 24th June 2012 while it was still raining, but people took it lightly and did not inform the authorities or get everybody away.”
He affirms when the landslides occurred at about 2pm, many people had gone to the market and some children were at school.
“Both the market and school were not affected. This is the reason why the number of missing persons feared dead is not very high,” he notes.
On delivering relief supplies, Mallinga confirms the area is accessible and therefore the use of earth moving equipment from Uganda National Roads Authority is possible.
The Minister says reinforcements with equipment from UNRA, the Ministry of Works and Transport, Uganda Peoples Defense Forces (UPDF) troops and Uganda Red Cross volunteers are joining the residents this morning to recover the bodies.
“I have sent to the tragedy site, Hon. Musa Ecweru and a technical team together with a trailer carrying 100 family size tents, 100 bags of 100kgs of maize flour, 50 bags of 100kgs of beans, 200 mosquito nets, 100 water jerry cans, 100 buckets and 500 cups. The Uganda Red cross Society has also dispatched 220 bars of soap, 220 saucepans, 330 plates, 220 blankets and 220 mosquito nets.”
As the rains intensify more people up to 400,000 are likely to be displaced in the Mt. Elgon area and will require urgent relief materials.
The districts at risk include Bududa, Mbale, Sironko, Manafwa, Kapchorwa, Bukwo all of Mt.Elgon. Bundibugyo, Kabarole, Kasese and Kyenjojo of Rwenzori Mountains. Kisoro, Kabale, Kanungu, Ntungamo and Rukungiri.
Mallinga says he has called a meeting of the National Disaster Preparedness Policy Committee comprising Ministers and Technical Officials from the Ministries of Works and Transport, Water and Environment, Finance, Education, Health and Local Government to take place at midday.
“I have also called the UN Agencies and other stakeholders to join the Ministers and work out short, medium and long term needs. The immediate short term needs are equipment and man-power to recover bodies, shelter and food for the displaced.”
He says the medium needs include identification of resettlement areas and resources. He promised that adetailed report would be issued later today after the meeting of the District Disaster Management Committee and field assessment which is taking place in Bududa now.
One of the survivors, James Kuloba, 42, said he has lost all his property and livestock. “I am finished because i no longer have any source of livelihood. My hands are empty yet i have to feed and sustain a family of seven,” he wept.
Steven Wamukota Steven, the Regional Field coordinator Uganda Red Cross, says there is urgent need to relocate the affected before it starts raining again.