Landslides triggered by heavy rains in eastern Uganda have killed at least 40 people, according to local media.

The semi-official New Vision newspaper reported on Tuesday that the victims were buried in their houses in Sisiyi and Buluganya, sub-counties in the district of Bulambuli. 

The landslides buried seven villages, including Mabono, Kigewa, Lunkungu, Bamwidyeki, Kamwenyi and Kimuli all in Sisiyi sub-county, the New Vision reported. 

It added that Gombe and Nalusato villages in Buluganya were also buried.

Musa Ecweru, the state minister for disaster preparedness, said: "There are so many teams working there, including the army, Red Cross and technical teams from the ministries."

Last year, landslides in the neighbouring district of Bududa killed more than 100 people.

Earlier, a Red Cross spokeswoman, Catherine Ntabadde, said workers and local residents had recovered at least 15 bodies in Mabono village, about 270km northeast of Kampala.

She said that two people were rescued and warned that the death could rise.

"We are still working and the figure could rise," Ntabadde said.

The Red Cross said heavy equipment was needed to clear the avalanche of mud as the landslide had engulfed hundreds of homes, but added that an assessment was underway to establish the exact figure.

Recent heavy rains in eastern Uganda have also caused flooding and displaced hundreds of families in the region.

The Mount Elgon region that straddles Kenya and Uganda often receives high rainfall which can devastate villages on the mountain slopes.

Some parts of Uganda are however currently hit by a severe drought that has put some 12 million people in the Horn of Africa in danger of starvation.

Source: Agencies