Body pulled from a landslide of garbage after a landfill collapsed in Addis Ababa. The death toll now stands at 82. Picture credit:  REUTERS

On Monday 13 March, rescue workers were seen carrying the body of a victim recovered out from a pile of refuse, following a landslide at the Koshe dump in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Details emerging from the scene reveal that the and slide submerged residents living next door to the site and the death toll so far stands at 82 people.

Given the makeshift nature of the homes built in the township next door to the landfill, residents had little protection from the avalanche of garbage.

The landslide occurred late on Saturday evening, destroying 49 homes and leaving 28 injured. At least a dozen residents are still missing, according to Addis City spokesman, Amare Mekonen.

Waste picker community

Much like in South Africa, and elsewhere in the developing world, hundreds of people rely on scavenging the dump site, looking for recyclables to be sold or food.

Bulldozers have been active at the site, as well as community volunteers and anxious family members search for their loved ones.

City’s responsibility

Three ambulances and two excavators were at the scene to search for and transport bodies. Volunteers at the site apparently felt this was too little, although the larger question as the story unfolds will be why City administrators did not manage their landfill more effectively in order to avoid the tragedy.  

Residents had apparently warned the authorities for more than 10 years that the landfill looked as though it might topple over.