ADDIS ABABA (AFP) – The death toll from a landslide at Ethiopia’s largest rubbish dump in the capital Addis Ababa climbed to 113 on Wednesday (March 15), a city spokeswoman said.
The toll from Saturday’s disaster has “reached 113”, Dagmawit Moges, a spokeswoman for the Addis Ababa city administration, told AFP.
Tragedy struck when part of the largest hillside at the Koshe rubbish dump collapsed, burying a slum that had been built on the landfill.
Communications Minister Negeri Lencho said the majority of the dead were women, and that rescue operations are continuing.
“As far as I know, they are still searching,” Lencho said, adding that he could not explain why the toll had risen so dramatically from a previous tally of 72 dead on Tuesday.
Koshe is the largest rubbish dump in Ethiopia, and home to a community of perhaps hundreds of people who collect and resell rubbish trucked in from around the capital city.
The government tried to close the dump last year and move it to a new location, but opposition from people living near the new site forced them to reverse their decision.
Koshe residents who spoke to AFP blamed the landslide on the building of a new biogas plant on top of the waste.
They said bulldozers had destabilised the soil during construction.
Lencho said an investigation into the tragedy was ongoing.
He had earlier said slumdwellers may have inadvertently caused the disaster.
Ethiopia’s parliament declared three days of national mourning starting from Wednesday.
The government was helping relatives of the victims pay for their funeral costs, Lencho said.