Around 50 people believed to be missing after heavy rains triggered a series of landslides in eastern Uganda's mountainous Bududa district on Tuesday night.

People search for victims' remains at the site of a landslide in Shisakali village of Bududa district in Uganda.
People search for victims' remains at the site of a landslide in Shisakali village of Bududa district in Uganda. (AFP)

Six people have died and dozens are missing after heavy rains triggered a series of landslides in eastern Uganda's mountainous Bududa district, the Red Cross said on Wednesday.

The organisation said that around 50 people were believed missing and 150 houses destroyed after the landslides on Tuesday night in the foothills of Mount Elgon –– an extinct volcano with five major peaks.

The dead included a 73-year-old woman and three children, the Uganda Red Cross said. At least 27 people had been injured with around 350 forced to leave their homes, it added.

"There were multiple landslides," in Bududa district, "but for now Red Cross has concentrated in the worst hit areas," spokeswoman Irene Nakasiita said in a statement.

"The local Red Cross branch volunteers together with the local police joined efforts and retrieved the bodies.

"The affected areas have steep slopes. It is threatening to rain again (and) accessibility is still a challenge," she added.

More deaths were likely due to continuing rainfall and the likelihood of pneumonia in children as well as outbreaks of cholera and diarrhoeal disease, the Red Cross said.

Local lawmaker Godfrey Watenga said the landslides took place late on Tuesday evening.

"It is a tragic occurrence. Many people are said to be dead and many missing but we are trying to get the details as the terrain here is difficult to manoeuvre and get to the affected villages."

High-risk area

Bududa district, which lies on the border between Uganda and Kenya, is a high-risk area for landslides.

In 2018, at least 41 people were killed after a river in the region burst its banks, and in 2010 at least 100 people were killed in a landslide.

A statement from the office of Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda said that "there are reports of displacement and destruction of property as well as missing persons."

After the 2010 landslide, the government said that the region, where people live on extremely steep slopes, was too dangerous and that a programme was underway to re-locate residents.

However similar disasters claimed lives in 2011, 2012 and 2016.

"In total, over 100,000 people living precariously on the slopes of Mount Elgon are estimated to be at great danger and requiring relocation" to avoid the danger of landslides, said the statement from Rugunda's office.

Source: AFP