MOZAMBIQUE: AT LEAST 17 KILLED IN CAPITAL AS PILE OF GARBAGE COLLAPSES

MAPUTO– At least 17 people died and several others were injured in Mozambique’s capital early on Monday when a 15-metre pile of garbage collapsed due to heavy rain and buried seven houses, officials said.

The collapse happened at around 3 a.m. in the impoverished Hulene neighbourhood, which is around 10 km from the centre of Maputo. The houses were built illegally and authorities had previously asked the residents to leave, officials said.

Up to now, 17 dead bodies were recovered. We fear more might be unaccounted for. So we will keep searching for bodies buried underneath the garbage pile, a councillor for Ka Mavota Municipal District, Despedida Rita, told reporters.

Land pressure in many African cities leads some people to squat on land they do not own as they seek higher wages available in urban centres. The dwellings are sometimes built on land that is marginal or unsafe.

The Portuguese news agency Lusa said 12 people died. Radio Mocambique put the death toll at 17. Half a dozen homes were destroyed and some residents in the area fled for fear of another collapse.

“The mountains of garbage collapsed on the houses and many families were still inside these residences,” Fatima Belchoir, a national disaster official, told Lusa. Authorities are trying to help people who lost their homes, she said.

The Hulene garbage dump is the largest such facility in Maputo. People often comb through the garbage, searching for food and items to sell.

Health workers have long raised concerns about the impact of the fumes, flies and other hazards of the dump on the surrounding community. Municipal officials have previously discussed the closure of the dump.

A landslide at Ethiopia’s largest rubbish dump last year claimed the lives of at least 65 people.

Residents blamed that collapse on construction work for a biogas plant being built on top of the rubbish pile.

As in Ethiopia, the dead in the Maputo collapse could include those squatting near the landfill site to search for food and items to sell.

The Hulene dump � the only official dump for Maputo’s 3.5 million people � is located in a densely populated neighbourhood covering around 17 hectares.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK