Dozens dead after rubbish dump landslide in Ethiopia

Many people were scavenging for items at the time

Dozens dead after rubbish dump landslide in Ethiopia

Police officers secure the perimeter at the scene of a garbage landslide, as excavators aid rescue efforts, on the outskirts of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia | Image: Elias Meseret/AP/Press Association Images

At least 24 people have been killed and several dozen are missing after a rubbish dump landslide near Addis Ababa.

Makeshift homes and concrete buildings were buried by the landslide at the massive landfill site just outside the Ethiopian capital.

About 150 people were there at the time of the landslide and many had been scavenging for items to sell, while others lived there in homes built from mud and sticks.

Officials fear the death toll will rise as more bodies are found.

The city's mayor said 37 people had been rescued and were receiving medical treatment.

Elderly women were seen crying and waiting anxiously for news of loved ones as six excavators dug through the debris.

Resident Assefa Teklemahimanot said: "I heard that eight children who were studying the Holy Quran were all buried somewhere in the middle of the rubble."

Tebeju Asres, who also lives on the site, said: "My house was right inside there. My mother and three of my sisters were there when the landslide happened. Now I don't know the fate of all of them."

The tragedy happened on Saturday night at the Koshe Garbage Landfill site, on the outskirts of Addis Ababa, which has been a dumping ground for the capital's refuse for more than 50 years.

Around 500 waste-pickers are understood to work at the landfill every day sifting through the refuse of the capital's four million residents for anything they may be able to make money from.

Almost 300,000 tonnes of waste are collected each year from the capital and most of it is dumped in the landfill.

Dumping at the site had stopped in recent years after a new complex was built nearby.

However, farmers objected to the new landfill and dumping resumed at the Koshe Garbage site.

Addis Ababa mayor Diribia Kuma said smaller landslides had happened in the past two years when two or three people were killed.

He added that a resettling programme would begin to relocate people who live in and around the landfill site.

The city has been trying to turn rubbish into a source of clean energy with a waste-to-energy facility that has been under construction since 2013.