Landslide at garbage dump kills over 60 in Ethiopia

Around 150 people were present at the garbage dump site when the landslide occurred. Almost 500 people work at the landfill daily.

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

Police officers secure the perimeter at the scene of a garbage landslide, as excavators aid rescue efforts, on the outskirts of the capital Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Sunday, March 12, 2017.

Updated Mar 13, 2017

At least 63 people were killed and 28 others injured after a giant landslide struck garbage dump site on the outskirts of the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, a city spokesman said on Sunday.

The landslide late Saturday levelled 49 makeshift homes of squatters living inside the Koshe landfill, said Dagmawit Moges, head of the city communications bureau.

Many of the victims were squatters, who scavenged for valuables in the dump, he said.

"We expect the number of victims to increase because the landslide covered a relatively large area," he added.

TRT World's Oliver Whitfield-Miocic reports.

About 150 people were present at the site when the landslide occurred, resident Assefa Teklemahimanot said.

City mayor, Diriba Kuma, said many people had been rescued and were receiving medical treatment.

Many people at the landfill had been scavenging items to make a living, but others live there because renting homes, largely built of mud and sticks, is relatively inexpensive.

TRT World spoke to journalist Colleta Wanjohi in Addis Ababa.

Smaller landslides have occurred at the Koshe landfill in the past two years but only two or three people were killed, Assefa said.

"In the long run, we will conduct a resettling program to relocate people who live in and around the landfill," the Addis Ababa mayor said.

Around 500 waste-pickers are believed to work at the landfill every day, sorting through the debris from the capital's estimated 4 million residents. City officials say close to 300,000 tons of waste are collected each year from the capital, most of it dumped at the landfill.

Residents of the area display their grief as bodies are recovered at the scene of a garbage landslide on the outskirts of the capital Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Sunday, March 12, 2017. (AP)

City officials in recent years have been trying to turn the garbage into a source of clean energy with a $120 million investment. The Koshe waste-to-energy facility, which has been under construction since 2013, is expected to generate 50 megawatts of electricity upon completion.

Ethiopia, which has one of Africa's fastest growing economies, is under a state of emergency imposed in October after several months of sometimes deadly protests demanding wider political freedoms.

TRTWorld and agencies