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Seven buried by landslides in Sironko

By Paul Watala

Added 29th August 2017 07:43 PM

One body has been recovered and handed over to the family. Those missing include Mica Gizamba, Oliver Nabuzale and Hakim Fungo.

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One body has been recovered and handed over to the family. Those missing include Mica Gizamba, Oliver Nabuzale and Hakim Fungo.

ENVIRONMENT | NATURAL DISASTER

Relatives and parents of the seven people who were on Monday buried by  a mudslide in Bufupa parish in Masaba sub-county in Sironko have lost hope of finding any person alive after the search of the bodies entered the second day.

One body has been recovered from the mudslide and has been identified as that of Topista Wanenzi, aged 53.

Others still missing include Mica Gizamba, 15, Oliver Nabuzale, 53, 18-year-old Hakim Fungo, Erick Wodeya, 10, Jane Namono, 9, and Edwin Waniala.

The recovered body was handed over to the relatives while parents and relatives of the missing people spent the whole day searching for the bodies of their loved ones but all in vain.

 

Hundreds of residents armed with hoes, other tools as well as hope flocked the scene and started digging in search efforts.

But hope started to thin out because mud mixed with heavy boulders could not give a chance for deeper digging.

Some made frantic phone calls to their missing loved ones. None would go through, offering fears that they were likely swallowed by the natural disaster.

Michael Muzenze, the husband of Wanenzi, said his wife was trapped by the mudslide while in the garden.

He said the others missing are believed to have been engulfed while fetching water at the water spring.

 

“We have now lost hope of getting any person alive. We are using rudimentary methods to search for the bodies. You can't use hoes to dig through mud that has buried people over twenty feet deep," said Muzenze.

"We are appealing to government for help. Give us graders or excavators to ease our work as we search for the bodies so that we are able to give them a decent sendoff.

“It’s very painful to lose a loved one and you are not able to bury him or her. Government should extend these services like the way it did to those in Bududa in 2010,” added Muzenze.

Francis Namonso, the LC1 chairperson of Buselege village, said the water spring where the people had gone to fetch water from was covered and that cannot be located because of the heavy boulders and soils.

He said that about twenty houses were covered by the mudslide.

The local leader said the entire sub-county is at risk because of the long and deep crack that is stretching for over 40km through all the five districts of Bududa, Sironko, Manafwa, Bulambuli and Namisindwa.

Namonso appealed to the government to expedite the process of relocating landslide victims that are sited on the geological time bomb. He said that recently a group of officials from Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) registered residents supposed to move to safe areas in Bunambutye sub-county in Bulambuli district.

 

“We have lives, crops, animals, houses that were also buried and residents are on tension. Hundreds of them have fled the area and are camping in trading centres, churches and health centres which are also at risk of being covered,” said Namonso.

Sironko RDC Moses Wamoto Kigayi visited the scene and appealed to those still in the hills to move to safer places, saying the situation is still dangerous.

“We have communicated to OPM and they are doing whatever it takes to see that people’s lives are saved. We are telling our people to stay with their relatives who are in safe places so that they are not trapped again."

Robert Nambadi, the assistant chief administrative officer for Sironko district, led the assessment team. He said that the district leadership was in touch with OPM to see that the bodies are recovered from the mudslide.

“We are not sure if the excavators can assess the area where the landslide occurred. We have also communicated for assistance after assessment,” he said.

He expressed concern that residents that are fleeing the area are at risk of catching cholera and other related waterbone diseases. He appealed for food, shelter and beddings for those that have been affected.

According to Nambadi, the district has got no capacity to handle the situation.

As many as three churches and two government-aided primary schools are also at risk of being buried by the mudslide, he added. Several acres of cropfields have been buried, exposing families to the risk of hunger.

 

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