Heavy rains in hilly eastern Uganda triggered flooding that burst river banks and submerged homes and roads, killing at least 10 people, the Red Cross said Sunday.
The victims of the Saturday night downpour lived in the neighbouring districts of Kapchorwa and Mbale. Videos of the scene showed terrified people squirming for safety as water levels rose in one village, toppling houses and felling banana trees.
The death toll is likely to rise, with local reporters saying they spotted bodies being washed away by the torrent.
“This disaster is due to environmental degradation,” Ugandan Prime Minister Robinah Nabanja told reporters from Mbale, adding that Ugandan security officials have been called to assist in rescue efforts. “How many people are going to die like this?”
There are fears of more trouble ahead as the rainy season has just begun.
Mbale and nearby districts are particularly vulnerable to flooding deaths because many residents have built homes by river banks and in the rugged foothills of Mount Elgon.
Although hundreds have responded to the government’s call to be relocated over the years, some continue to resist, saying they aren’t comfortable leaving their ancestral lands.