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17 dead as dumpsite collapses in Mozambique

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More than 10 people have been killed following the partial collapse of a rubbish dump in Mozambique.

The Hulene dump in Maputo, the largest dumpsite in the city, collapsed on Monday after heavy rains, burying several homes built nearby. The tragedy struck late at night, when most of the residents were asleep.

It is currently estimated that between 12 and 17 people have been killed in the collapse, though the toll could rise, as rescue teams are sifting through the garbage for survivors.

“The information we received from local authorities is that the number of people living in those houses exceed the number of deaths recorded, so work is still ongoing to see if there are any other deaths,” said Leonilde Pelembe, a spokesperson for the National Public Safety Service.

The Hulene dump had risen to the height of a three-story building, and a local leader claims that it should have been relocated a long time ago.

“It’s been more than 10 years that the dump should have been closed because it’s full — but they still continue to pile trash on the trash. The consequence is this,” said Teresa Mangue.

For the urban poor, dumpsites such as these, unpleasant as they may be, offer a place to put up a shack, and a means to eke a living, as food and resalable items can be found here.

In March last year, a similar tragedy befell Ethiopia, when the largest dumpsite in Addis Ababa collapsed, killing more than a hundred people.