By Moki Edwin Kindzeka
October 29, 2019 12:10 PM
BAFOUSSAM, CAMEROON – Authorities in Cameroon have deployed soldiers and rescue workers after a torrential downpour caused a landslide that killed at least 34 people overnight near the western town of Bafoussam. Rescue workers spent Tuesday searching through the wreckage of destroyed homes.
Heavy rains Tuesday in a neighborhood called Carrefour Ngouache have not stopped rescue workers from digging through mounds of mud and debris.
The workers are hoping to find more survivors, but are mostly searching for bodies trapped in the landslide that occurred late on Monday night.
Augustine Awah Fonka, governor of the region, said he has called in four bulldozers to help clear away the crumbled houses.
“There are several corpses that are buried in here,” she said. “The rescue operations are still ongoing, so at the end of it we will be able to identify the number of persons that are actually dead. But of course it is clear that we have to ask the people who are residents in this area to leave the area, because the area is actually very dangerous.”
Thirty-four corpses have been pulled from the rubble so far and taken to the mortuary of the regional hospital in Bafoussam. More than 30 people are still missing.
At least 70 people sustained injuries in the landslide. Some were taken to hospitals, where six are in critical conditions. About 20 houses were completely destroyed.
Nzonkewe Tanyi, 61, says he is still in search of three of his children and uncle.
He says it was very difficult for them who were in relatively safer areas to assist those who were crying help because the incident occurred at about 10 p.m. on Monday night when places were dark and they did not have electricity. He says his prayer is to find his relatives alive.
Cameroon minister of decentralization George Elanga Obam visited the site and handed over a $50,000 donation from the government. He said the money is help those who have lost all of their belongings and are hungry without food and water.
Obam suggested that survivors rebuild their houses elsewhere.
He says it is rather unfortunate that so many families decided risk their lives by settling on the zone which is prone to flooding and landslides. He says the cause of the incident is the rains that have been pouring ceaselessly over the past two weeks.
Less than two weeks ago, heavy rains and floods also left at least 100,000 people homeless on both sides of the border between northern Cameroon and Chad.