A devastating garbage landslide precipitated by heavy rainfall wounded six people and killed 16 in Maputo, Mozambique, The Guardian reported. The 42-acre Hulene dump — located in the impoverished neighborhood of Hulene — rises nearly 50 feet above residents who live around the edges, and the avalanche consumed over 10 homes. Local Paulina Cosa told The Guardian, “It was late and the rain was pouring down, but I was woken up by something that sounded like an explosion.”

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People who live near the Hulene dump and earn money salvaging trash are exposed to stench, mosquitoes, and disease. Life isn’t easy, and 16 people lost their lives when rains triggered an avalanche around 3 AM one morning last week. The rubbish swallowed around 328 feet of land, consuming houses and killing people.

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Maputo’s director of health and cemeteries Joao Mucavele told The Guardian people from the neighborhood, municipality, and Red Cross came to help. Recovery operations are over now as earth-moving equipment shoves back heaps of trash. Mucavele told The Guardian, “We are now working to return the waste to where it came from. The people who were living here will be given help, but no one can live here from now on.” Residents at the collapse site were moved to a temporary shelter around 30 minutes away.

Some people have called for the resignation of mayor David Simango, who campaigned for re-election in 2013 with the promise to shut down the dump. Livaningo, a local environmental activism organization, has been trying to get the dump closed for 15 years. They say it’s operating way above capacity and creating hazardous living conditions. Activist Manuel Cardoso said they’ve been telling the government such an event like this one would happen for years, telling The Guardian, “What we are looking for now is how we can help these families find justice. Where is the responsibility of the government?”

Eight people were buried in a state-sponsored funeral last week. Maputo City governor Iolanda Cintura said in a speech, “On behalf of the government, in my own name we apologize to the Uamusse, Ngovene, Thousene, Mondlane, and Bendene families for what happened. We expect everybody to help all these families to recover their hope.”

Via The Guardian

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