At least 16 bodies have been recovered after torrential rain caused landslides in western Uganda, the Red Cross has said.
“Our team continues to recover more bodies including some that are trapped by cocoa trees in Bundibugyo hills. It is a very devastating moment,” the humanitarian agency said in a tweet on Sunday.
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An aid team has been deployed to search and recover bodies in Bundibugyo district, which was affected by the landslides after days of heavy rainfall.
“We have provided body bags and blankets to manage the dead in a dignified manner before handing them over to families and hospitals,” Irene Nakasita, Red Cross spokeswoman, said.
The East African nation is undergoing its second rainy season, which has reached its peak in most parts of the country. The Uganda National Meteorological Authority has predicted heavy rainfall will continue throughout December.
The heavy rains have caused destructive flooding in several low-lying parts of the country and landslides in the mountainous regions. Destructive wind and hailstorms have ravaged plantations and crops across Uganda.
Our Response action team in Bundibugyo is up and running. So far 16 bodies retrieved.
We are doing dead body management to ensure dignity of those claimed by the tragedy. Thanks to our volunteers (RCATs) in action. @opmdpm @IFRCAfrica @IFRC_DREF @robert_kwesiga @inakasiita1 pic.twitter.com/0NDPIVCqwo
— Uganda Red Cross Soc (@UgandaRedCross) December 8, 2019
More than 20 people have been killed as a result of floods and mudslides in the last week in Uganda. The eastern parts of the country have also been suffering floods and landslides around the Mount Elgon region.
In a statement on Friday, Musa Ecweru, Uganda’s minister of state for disaster preparedness, said: “Four people were killed in Bududa district and another four including two children in Sironko district.”
“Over 10,000 people have been displaced in eastern Uganda alone and we are currently reviewing villages’ household registers to establish the number and names of missing persons,” Ecweru said.
The government has now released more than $5.4m for emergency procurement.
These include inflatable boats, tarpaulins, blankets, relief food, drugs for water-borne diseases and culverts for fixing washed away bridges.
The extreme weather has been blamed on the Indian Ocean Dipole – a climate system defined by the difference in sea surface temperature between western and eastern areas of the ocean.
At the moment, the ocean around East Africa is far warmer than usual, resulting in higher evaporation and moist air flowing inwards over the continent as rain: the hallmarks of a “positive” dipole.
Scientists warn that as ocean temperatures rise because of climate change, Indian Ocean dipoles will become more frequent and severe.