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50 feared dead in Uganda mudslide

Aid workers and villagers are digging through the mud searching for survivors after a landslide in Uganda.

At least twenty-two bodies have been found and more than 30 people are still missing after a series of landslides in the mountainous eastern Ugandan district of Bulambuli.

The landslides came at about 2.30 am yesterday (Monday) and swept away households in Sisiyi and Buluganya Sub Counties about 270km (167 miles) northeast of the capital, Kampala.

A local chief, his wife and every single one of his eight children were killed, Uganda’s Daily Monitor newspaper said.

"We are at the scene. We have so far managed to exhume 22 bodies," said Simon Wanzofu, the district chairperson for the disaster-hit area.

"The landslides were caused by heavy rains. We need an excavator to help us in the rescue operations," he added.

Local police chief, Philip Ocaya said yesterday that no survivors had so far been found. "We are trying to dig the mud. We can't estimate and assume how many people are missing since we don't know how many people were staying in each homestead," he said.

Residents and Red Cross aid workers pulled 15 bodies from the rubble of Mabono village in Bulambuli, said Red Cross spokeswoman Catherine Ntabadde.

Two people were rescued in Mabono, but eight others were confirmed dead after a mudslide in a second village in the same area, Ms Ntabadde added.

She said the death toll could rise.

"We have sent teams to the affected areas and there are chances that more people will be found there," Ms Ntabadde said.

The current heavy rains have also caused heavy flooding of the lower part of Buluganya Sub County affecting Bunambutye, Bwikhonge, Nabongo and Muyembe. Every home in these areas is reported flooded, said the east African country’s New Vision news service.

In March last year, some 350 people were killed last year when a mudslide swept through a village in the country's eastern Mount Elgon region.

Afterwards officials said then they would rehouse as many as half a million people to prevent a repeat. But because of local opposition to the plans only a few thousand - those classed most at risk - were actually moved.

Uganda has two rainy seasons a year, called 'short' and 'long' rains during which rainfall is usually short but torrential. The long rains start from September through to November and are often accompanied by thunderstorms. But there are also some dry regions of the country that get a very small amount of rainfall of 100 mm or less whereas in the rest of the country it is between 1000 and 2000 mm.

Hayley attribution