Tale of Ethiopia Landslide Survivor

A garbage dump landslide on the outskirts of the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa killed hundreds of people last week. (Photo: AFP)


Desperate Choice of Ethiopia Landslide Survivor: Run or Die

Addis Ababa – One minute, Zemed Derib stood negotiating with her precocious siblings who had locked themselves inside their uncle’s home as a prank.

The next, the playful scene gave way to horror as the hillside of the rubbish dump above them collapsed.

With terrified screams of neighbours filling the air, Zemed abandoned her doomed sisters and took to her heels, outrunning the torrent of fetid dirt that swallowed homes and killed at least 113 people in Africa’s second most-populous country, Ethiopia.

“I ran away, but finally, when I turn my face, nothing was there. Everything changed into black,” Zemed said as she sat clutching a portrait of her mother Yeshi Beyene, one of the victims of the disaster at Koshe, the country’s largest rubbish dump situated on the outskirts of the capital Addis Ababa.

On Saturday, a week after the tragedy, men in face masks and rubber aprons waited for excavators to move aside the waste to carry out their search for the dead.

Zemed, wearing all black, is mourning the loss of seven relatives, including her three younger sisters and a baby girl born days earlier who had not yet been named.

Zemed’s family lived among a community of hundreds who had built homes on the side of Koshe’s main slope and spent their days scavenging for valuable rubbish trucked in from neighbourhoods around this city of about four million people.

- Accident waiting to happen? -

The settlement is now buried under a wall of black muck and the landslide left a jagged, crescent-shaped cut in the side of the landfill’s rise.

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