Garbage dump landslide in Ethiopia

The Koshe site has for more than 40 years been one of the main garbage dumps for Addis Ababa, a rapidly growing city of some four million people. Huge piles of mixed rubbish gave off a constant stench.

So many people were located near the landfill before the slide because the large dump is the site of a number of makeshift homes in the poverty-stricken African nation.

Another resident said there were at least five people in every house and began to count apprehensively.

Ibrahim Mohammed, a day labourer living at the landfill whose house was narrowly spared destruction, said the disaster happened in "three minutes".

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"I have lived here for more than 10 years and I know the village well".

Many people at the landfill had been scavenging items to make a living, but others live there because renting homes, largely built of mud and sticks, is relatively low-cost.

The landslide may have been caused by the resumption of garbage dumping at the site in recent months.

About 54 people so far have received medical treatment, said Solomon Bussa, the chief of clinical services at the Alert Hospital where the injured have been taken.

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The mayor said people living near the dump will be resettled "in the long run".

The Addis Ababa City Administration and the Addis Ababa University Horn of Africa Regional Environmental Center, in a bid to produce energy from the 50 years old landfill, have recently installed the first stage of a methane capture and flaring system, known as "Repi landfill gas project". Earlier, residents angrily turned on journalists filming the scene, driving them away with stones. Families bitterly complained they had been left to dig for the bodies of their loved ones by the light of their mobile phones.

"We have warned the authorities for more than 10 years as the rubbish piled up".

Officials said the landfill receives close to 300,000 tons of waste collected each year from the capital. They are also working to relocate residents to other neighborhoods.

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