Avoidable, Regrettable Tragedy

Rescue workers, the community, and volunteers have been digging through tonnes of garbage since last week, as the chances for survival dim with the days. But the search for the victims of the Repi (Qoshe) landfill disaster in Addis Abeba continues. The landslide occurred on Saturday March 11, at around 8:00pm.

Hundreds of people have gathered at the scene, crying and praying, as the death toll climbed to 125, with most of the victims being women and children.

Some of the victims have already been buried at the Abune Aregawi Church, near the site (above pictures). “Qoshe” which means garbage, has been the city’s only dumping site for 50 years. It covers close to 37ha with mountains of garbage as high as 40 meters, and collects around 8,500 tonnes of waste daily.

Authorities have not commented on the cause of incident. It is still unclear what happened, but they have announced they have formed a taskforce to investigate what triggered the garbage slide. However, residents claim that the laying of biogas pipes at the landfill might be to blame.

A waste-to-energy plant is being built by the Addis Abeba City Administration, which requires the installation of pipes and wells in the landfill to destroy methane from the waste. Locals reported hearing a loud noise right before the landslide. The pile of garbage has been steadily creeping forward over the past two years, even causing flooding in some of the homes when it blocked a river, according to locals. There have been attempts to move the landfill outside the city, to a site in Sendafa. However, farmers in the area blocked dumping there. As a result, garbage disposal continued in the Repi site. Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn expressed his condolences during an appearance before Parliament, and the city administrators have promised to support the families of the victims and relocate them to safer areas.

This content is edited after the original content mistakenly asserted that a waste-to-energy plant is being built in cooperation with the UNDP at the Qoshe site, where the landslide happened.

We categorically retract this statement and sincerely apologise to UNDP and our readers for the above unfortunate oversight, thus the inconvenience it has caused.


Published on Mar 22,2017 [ Vol 17 ,No 881]



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