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Dozens Dead Or Missing In Landslide At Ethiopian Garbage Dump

Police officers secure the perimeter at the scene of a garbage landslide, as excavators aid rescue efforts on the outskirts of Ethiopia's capital city, Addis Ababa, on Sunday.
Elias Meseret

Updated at 11 a.m. ET

Investigators in Ethiopia are trying to determine why a mountain of trash gave way Saturday night, reportedly killing more than 60 people and leaving several dozen missing, at a massive garbage dump on the outskirts of the capital, Addis Ababa.

The death toll stood at 62 on Monday, according to The Associated Press, which cited the state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate.

The collapse at the Koshe Garbage Landfill buried several makeshift homes and concrete buildings.

Many people live at the landfill because renting homes there is relatively inexpensive. The homes usually are made of mud or sticks.

Other people at the site of the collapse included scavengers who were looking for items to sell.

About 150 people were at the landfill when the landslide happened, resident Assefa Teklemahimanot told The Associated Press; most of the victims were women and children.

"The resumption of garbage dumping at the site in recent months likely caused the landslide, Assefa said. The dumping had stopped in recent years, but it resumed after farmers in a nearby restive region where a new garbage landfill complex was being built blocked dumping in their area.

"Smaller collapses have occurred at Koshe — or 'dirty' in the local Amharic language — in the past two years but only two or three people were killed, Assefa said.

" 'In the long run, we will conduct a resettling program to relocate people who live in and around the landfill,' Addis Ababa Mayor Diriba Kuma said.

"Around 500 waste-pickers are believed to work at the landfill every day, sorting through the debris from the capital's estimated 4 million residents. City officials say close to 300,000 tons of waste are collected each year from the capital, most of it dumped at the landfill."

The landfill has been a dumping ground for the capital's garbage for more than 50 years.

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Doreen McCallister
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