According to different reports, at least 39 people have died and 16 are missing when a landslide, triggered by heavy rains, swept a town in eastern Uganda about 250 km (155 miles) from the capital Kampala, destroying houses and burying people and livestock Thursday night.
"I have received the sad news of landslides wreaking havoc in Bududa District, killing a yet-to-be-specified number of residents. The government has dispatched rescue teams to the affected areas. I urge residents to cooperate with authorities to mitigate possible further danger," President Yoweri Museveni wrote Thursday on Twitter.
The people of Bukalasi, situated on the slopes of Mount Elgon, suffered from a landslide generated by heavy rains. Emergency and relief teams are conducting a search in the area, said Commissioner for Disaster Preparedness and Management, Martin Owor.
"Most of the people were caught at the market, the landslide pushed huge boulders into a river which burst its banks and the water swept away the people," said Owor. He added, "there are people who were displaced and they need shelter, food and other support and we're moving that relief to the area."
This is arguably the worst atrocity in the country since 2010, when a mudslide in Mount Elgon killed over 300 people. Mudslides and flooding are commonplace in the mountainous region during the rainy season, and people have previously been urged to stay clear of the region during this season. However, many people remain because of their attachment to their land, as well as the fertility of their crops.
According to the Ugandan Red Cross, "animals and people were swept away in this disaster. Our community volunteers did their best to rescue people from the debris," the agency tweeted on Thursday night.