Kampala. In the hills of Bukalasi Sub-county in Bududa District, sorrow and grief is written on the faces of residents who have lost their relatives in a mudslide that had by the end of Thursday left 40 dead. Rescuers were still digging through the rubble and the death toll was expected to rise.
Among those feared killed are pupils of Suume Junior Academy, whose makeshift premises were washed away and buried in rubble.
Mr James Watawa, one the teachers of Ssume Junior Academy, narrated that when it started raining, they had dismissed children to go home but a few had remained and are now missing.
“We can’t ascertain the number of children who are safe and those who have died. But some have died because the school was buried,” he said.
A yet to be ascertained number of homes, gardens, animals and other things remain buried in mud and rescue operations are still ongoing. But given the remote nature of the area, rescue operations only take place during day, meaning the rescuers on day-one of the operation had to retreat when darkness struck on Thursday and only returned to work on Friday morning. This lessens the chance that anyone who may still be buried in the rubble may be found alive.
The remoteness of the area aside, the roads are largely impassable and the rains have worsened matters, meaning it is difficult to use earth-moving equipment.
Mr Hassan Wamboya, a resident of Bunasitya Village, who lost his two relatives (Mutinye Wawiyo and Tito Bison), said the deceased were engulfed by the mud at Naposhi Trading Centre in a hut where they had sought shelter as it rained.
“They failed to escape after the large volumes of water and the rolling stones, engulfed the hut,” the tearful Wamboya says.
After the rains subsided, the bodies of the two were found floating on the river.
The devastating mudslides that swept villages in Bakalasi, Buwali and Bubiita sub-counties on Thursday afternoon have also left more than 500 people displaced, with the exact number of the dead still unknown.
Ms Topisita Mukhana, 67, is looking for her missing husband and grandchildren.
“My husband is still missing but his friend was found among the recovered bodies. He left home with our grandchildren during lunch time to the trading centre to buy maize flour but they never came back,” she said amid tears.
According Mr Geoffrey Mukuwa, a survivor, more than 20 people had sought shelter in one hut in the nearby trading centre and were buried but they had not seen any of their bodies.
The mudslides were triggered off after a downpour that started at around 11am and lasted about four hours on Wednesday.
Museveni condoles with victims
Condolence. President Museveni has sent a condolence message to the Bududa mudslide victims following devastating mudslides that swept through several villages in Bukalasi Sub-county.
“I have received the sad news of the mudslides wreaking havoc in Bududa District, killing a yet to be specified number of residents. The government has dispatched rescue teams to the affected areas. I urge residents to cooperate with authorities to mitigate possible further danger. The government will look at the other available options to stop further occurrences of these disasters. My condolences to those who have lost their dear ones in this catastrophe,” Mr Museveni wrote on his twitter handle.
The President, who was on official visit to the United Kingdom, is expected to visit the area later.
By Leonard Mukooli, Micheal Woniala, Yahudu Kitunzi, Fred Wambede & Mudangha Kolyangha