CONAKRY – At least eight people died and others were injured in Guinea when a portion of a rubbish landfill site collapsed on houses on the outskirts of the capital, Conakry, in torrential rain, police and government officials said on Tuesday.
The disaster followed landslides in Sierra Leone and Democratic Republic of Congo in which hundreds of people have been killed since early last week. Authorities have said that heavy rain in the region could cause more deaths.
Monday’s incident in Guinea occurred in the morning in the Dar Es Salam neighbourhood after an overnight deluge. The area is filled with wood and tin-roof houses, some of which are situated at the base of a towering mass of refuse.
“I saw the mountain of garbage collapse on other people’s houses. People were trapped,” Dar Es Salam resident Yamoussa Soumah told Reuters. “My wife and I heard the mud begin falling on our roof. We were able to escape, but we’ve lost everything.”
The government initially said five people had been killed and around 10 injured.
A senior police source later said that eight had died, and a second official said the government was preparing to raise its death toll after finding three more bodies.
A young girl was pulled alive from the debris and rushed to medics in the arms of a rescue worker.
“Currently rescue operations are under way,” the government said in a statement. “On this sad occasion, the government addresses its deepest condolences to the victims’ families.”
Shifting rainfall patterns, rampant deforestation and expanding urban populations are increasing the risk of deadly mudslides across west and central Africa, experts have said.
Rescue workers have unearthed 499 bodies since the side of Mount Sugar Loaf collapsed last Monday near the Sierra Leone capital Freetown in one of Africa’s worst flooding-related disasters in years.
More than 200 people were believed to have been killed in Congo days later when another landslide struck the village of Tora on the shores of Lake Albert, a seismically active zone in the western Rift Valley.