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Rubbish dump collapse kills 17 Africans

Seventeen people have been killed and many more are feared dead, after heavy rains caused the partial collapse of a rubbish dump in Mozambique.

Published: February 21, 2018, 1:38 pm

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    The mountain of waste had reached the height of a three-story building, according to Portuguese news agency Lusa.

    The 15-metre high dump collapsed, destroying seven houses, and rescuers fear more bodies may be buried under waste at the Hulene landfill, just outside the capital, Maputo.

    Scavengers living close to the site have fled fearing another collapse of the only official dump for Maputo’s 3.5 million people.

    Despedida Rita, a councillor for Ka Mavota Municipal District, confirmed the deaths.

    Nearly 55 percent of Mozambique’s population – about 14 million people – live in total poverty, according to the United Nations Development Programme. Many of them in the country’s capital rely on the rubbish dump to survive. The Hulene dump is located in a densely populated neighbourhood.

    In Ethiopia’s largest rubbish dump collapse last year, the lives of at least 65 people were lost.

    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.

    A spokesman for the emergency services, Leonilde Pelembe, said more victims have been buried under the waste. “The information we received from local authorities is that the number of people living in those houses exceeds the number of deaths recorded,” Pelembe said.

    The Hulene district of Maputo is one of the poorest parts of the capital. Maria Huo, a resident, told AFP that authorities had failed to introduce safety.

    “It’s been more than 10 years that the dump should have been closed because it’s full, but they still continue to pile trash on the trash. The consequence is this,” Teresa Mangue, spokesperson for the residents, said.

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