Landslide kills dozens at waste dump near Ethiopian capital

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Over 60 people have died after a landslide at a rubbish dump on the outskirts of Addis Ababa on Saturday, and Amnesty International holds the Ethiopian government fully responsible.

Part of the largest hill at the Koshe rubbish dump in the capital Addis Ababa gave way on Saturday, swallowing up a slum that had been built on the trash and burying families alive in their homes.

Some of the victims were squatters living in shacks at the site; others were scavengers who dig through the garbage every day, looking for items to sell.

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.

The tragedy highlights the desperate poverty that drags down many Ethiopian families despite the country's rapid economic growth and government moves to position the East African nation as a regional power.

Rescue crews are still searching for survivors and officials are investigating what caused the dump to collapse. "I think around 150 people were here at the time of the landslide".

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"My house was right inside there", Tebeju Asres told AP, pointing to an muddy area excavators were digging out. Residents have said the dumping of trash had resumed there in recent months after protests at a newer landfill site.

"In the long run, we will conduct a resettling programme to relocate people who live in and around the landfill", he said.

He said that as the death toll increased from the initial 15 to 72, the city administration has organised a public funeral and memorial service for victims of the tragic accident.

The authorities have been building Africa's first waste-to-energy plant near the landfill. City officials say close to 300,000 tons of waste are collected each year from the capital, most of it dumped at the landfill.

Local residents also told Xinhua that a number of smaller landslides have occurred at the dumping site over the past years, yet none of them had a magnitude of the current one.

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