A landslide at a dumping ground on the outskirts of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, killed at least 46 people late on Saturday. Squatters who scavenged at the Koshe landfill were most of the casualties of the man-made disaster. Bystanders believe there are several still trapped under the piles of rubbish, AFP reported on Sunday.
Around 150 people lived at the site and dozens are still missing, officials said. The construction of a new biogas plant at a nearby hill is believed to have caused the landslide. Ethiopian Communications Minister Negeri Lencho said authorities are still investigating what triggered the landslide, according to CNN. “It’s a sad story because the government has been trying to resettle the people residing in the area,” he added.
Even after the tragedy, bulldozers were seen moving mounds of garbage around and levelling the ground for the plant, thereby increasing the risk of another such incident. Ibrahim Mohammed, a labourer at the yard, said “a lot of garbage is dumped on the top level” and “pressed down”.
The biogas plant is set to be Africa’s first waste-to-energy conversion centre. Authorities aim to burn the garbage dumped at the landfill and convert it into electricity, BBC reported.
The Koshe dumping yard has been the main landfill for Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian Capital, for more than four decades. Local residents said there were some 50 houses with around seven people living in each at the site. Berhanu Degefe, a rubbish collector, said their livelihood depended on the trash. “They [the squatters] collect from here and they live here,” he told AFP.