Officials and residents say 15 people have been killed in a landslide at a massive garbage dump on the outskirts of Ethiopia’s capital, and several dozen people are missing.
Addis Ababa Mayor Diriba Kuma says 15 bodies have been recovered since the landslide Saturday night at the Koshe Garbage Landfill buried several makeshift homes and concrete buildings. The landfill has been a dumping ground for the capital’s garbage for more than 50 years.
About 150 people were at the site when the landslide occurred, resident Assefa Teklemahimanot told The Associated Press. The mayor said 37 people had been rescued and were receiving medical treatment.
Many people at the site had been scavenging items to make a living, but others live at the landfill because renting homes, largely built of mud and sticks, is relatively inexpensive there.
The resumption of garbage dumping at the site in recent months likely caused the landslide, Assefa said. The dumping had stopped in recent years, but it resumed after farmers in a nearby restive region where a new garbage landfill complex was being built blocked dumping in their area.
Smaller landslides have occurred at the Koshe landfill in the past two years but only two or three people were killed, Assefa said.
“In the long run, we will conduct a resettling program to relocate people who live in and around the landfill,” the Addis Ababa mayor said.
City officials in recent years have been trying to turn the garbage into a source of clean energy with a $120 million investment. The Koshe waste-to-energy facility, which has been under construction since 2013, is expected to generate 50 megawatts of electricity upon completion.
Ethiopia, which has one of Africa’s fastest growing economies, is under a state of emergency imposed in October after several months of sometimes deadly protests demanding wider political freedoms.