YAOUNDE – At least 30 people have been killed in landslides caused by heavy rains in Cameroon’s capital Yaoundé, the emergency services have said.
A local radio station put the death toll at 40, saying that many people are still missing.
Rescue efforts were hampered by floods, forcing locals to pull bodies out of the debris with their bare hands, reported the BBC.
Heavy rainfall caused the Mefou River to burst its banks on Sunday, submerging several neighbourhoods.
The disaster comes almost a year after at least 14 people died in another landslide in the city.
The poor neighbourhood of Mbankolo was worst affected in the latest disaster, with some homes, built on slopes, collapsing and banana trees being uprooted.
Housing and Urban Development Minister, Celestine Ketcha Courtès, told the BBC that a team would “work all day long to continue finding people”.
The bodies of children were “spread out on the wet ground”, a resident was quoted as saying by the Cameroon Voice news website.
In total, 12 bodies have been identified and taken to the morgue, the private Actu Cameroun website reports.
About 25 houses were swept away by the raging floods and “many families are certainly still trapped alive,” it added.
On Saturday, authorities in neighbouring Nigeria warned residents to expect floods in nine states as Cameroon began releasing water from its Lagdo Dam.
It was expected to do this until the end of this month, Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency (Nema) said, adding that Cameroon’s dam was expected to spill water until the end of October.
Cameroon said the release of water was necessary due to heavy rains in the country’s north.
The release would be kept to a minimum, officials added.
Last year, the release of water from the dam caused flooding and fatalities in Nigeria, especially in Benue state, on the border with Cameroon.
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