Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) have joined the search and rescue operation in Bukalasi sub-county, Bududa district in a bid to locate missing persons.
The military is jointly operating with Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), Uganda Red Cross, Police, Bududa district Disaster management Committee, and other stakeholders.
According to Brig Stephen Oluka, the National Emergency and Disaster Preparedness Coordinator in the OPM said that the operation is progressing well in the right direction as anticipated.
He attributed this to maximum cooperation and coordination exhibited by all disaster management teams, key players and stakeholders.
The Bududa landslide disaster followed a three day consistent and strong rainfall on Mt Elgon National Park in Bukalasi sub-county.
According to reports, the landslide coupled with heavy rains and floods blocked River Suume course, prompting its bank to burst. 13 villages in Bukalasi and Bubiita sub-county with a population of over 1,300 people were most affected according to survivors.
Currently, the death toll stands at 43 persons dead, 12 victims evacuated to Bududa hospital, 3 patients referred to Mbale Regional Referral Hospital, Crops , livestock and other house hold items destroyed and four bridges washed away and disrupted business.
“Though the situation remains calm and contained, the rescue and search efforts are ongoing as normalcy returns gradually,” Brig Oluka said.
Brig Oluka noted that some logistic challenges initially at play, have so far been addressed and the rescue team is going on with their work to rescue and search for the dead.
The chairman local council five Bududa, Watira Wilson expressed his gratitude and acknowledged government’s timely intervention.
“On behalf of Bududa local government, we are gratified by the quick emergency and immediate response and support rendered by government, different agencies, stakeholders and Samaritans towards the ongoing rescue efforts,” Watira noted.
“I urge the Ugandan government, especially OPM to fast track the implementation of the earmarked relocation of most vulnerable families to preferred and gazetted safer zones,” he added.
Bududa district is predominantly hilly, with bad terrain and this has made it prone to disasters like landslides that have claimed a number of lives, destroyed infrastructure like schools, health facilities, roads, bridges in recent times.
Landslides are common occurrences in Mountain Elgon region during rainy seasons. The worst incident was recorded in 2010 where at least 300 people lost their lives.