The death toll following the catastrophic landslides that hit Bukalasi sub-county in Bududa district on Thursday has risen to 34, according to Uganda Red Cross Society.
Heavy rainfall on Thursday afternoon raised the water levels in River Suume causing it to burst its banks. It is these waters that ran down the slopes of the mountainous terrain washing away nearby homes, property and covering a trading centre down stream.
As of Thursday evening, 17 dead bodies had been discovered in the muddy earth, but the number has since shot up to 34 (by Friday afternoon), according to Irene Nakasita, the Uganda Red Cross Society Public Relations Officer.
However, there is fear that the death toll will further rise as several other people remain unaccounted for. Among them are pupils of Suume Junior Primary School in Namalila village where a classroom was swept off by the running water along with pupils who were studying.
Nakasita told SoftPower News on Friday that the search and rescue efforts continue as people continue to report missing persons.
“Our assessment team is still on ground trying to finish assessment today because yesterday, the place was inaccessible. We have also positioned relief support. Our relief trucks will leave Kampala today,” she said.
She said that items such as tarpaulins, blankets, kitchen sets, soap, aqua-tabs (to purify the water for consumption) will be distributed on Sunday to the displaced persons, once the assessment is completed.
Majority of the homeless people have sought shelter at their relatives’ and neighbours’ homes, as well as nearby schools and churches.
“Most of them have relatives in the neighbouring communities that were not affected,” Nakasita told this website. She however could not give an estimate of the people that have been displaced following yesterday’s disaster.
On how Red Cross is managing to access the affected areas, she said; “Our cars can maneuver through the rough terrain”.
“Yes, the place is still inaccessible but we have to devise means of getting on ground. There are challenges but we have to finish the assessment today”.
Locals including area leaders say they still await government response and that they are improvising (using their hands) to dig out dead bodies from beneath the earth difficult as it is.
Martin Owor, the Commissioner for Disaster Preparedness and Management in the Office of the Prime Minister said that relief items have Friday been dispatched from Kampala to Bududa.
“This is one of the 67 major disasters which have occurred this year. We bought tents, blankets and households requirements and stored them. But you can’t know where the next disaster will happen,” Owor said.
“Immediately when the disaster happens, we load and deliver these things. So, delivering them today which is less than 48 hours is reasonable,” he added.
He said that affected persons will receive food as well as other households items.