BY JOEL KAGUTA
Kasese: Residents of Bunyandiko village of Kilembe sub County in Kasese district on Sunday morning woke up in grief after discovering three of their own buried by a huge mudflow that hit a house in which they were sleeping.
The incident followed a heavy down pour that had befallen the area from 8pm till morning.
Mr. Amos Byasaki Tsurunga, the Village Chairperson confirmed the incident and said the victims belonged to Mr. Stanley Muhindo Twesigye, all residents of the same area.
According to Mr. Muhindo, a mudflow hit the upper side of his two roomed permanent house, forcing the wall to fall down and hit his four children who were sleeping in the affected room.
Mr. Muhindo, the father to the deceased children, told the press at midday that his house was hit at around 6am on Sunday.
Mr. Muhindo adds that when he heard something banging on the upper side of his house, he thought the un-burnt bricks that were kept in the upper side of the house had fallen down.
He says that when he woke up to ascertain what had exactly happened, he heard his children yelling for help.
Mr. Muhindo and his wife and other two children were sleeping in the next room on the lower side.
“When I heard something hitting my house, I hurriedly woke up and to open my curtain, I saw my two children yelling for help but the rest were not seen because they had been buried by the debris of the mudflow and the bricks”, Muhindo said.
He identified the deceased as Jowas Bwambale aged 12 and Joefred Masereka, a 10 year old boy. The duo was both pupils at Bunyandiko primary school in primary four and one respectively. Bunyandiko primary school is about a half Kilometer from where the deceased were staying.
Mr. Muhindo explained that after the incident, he told his wife to be strong and together pulled the other two injured children from the rubble and were taken by residents to Kilembe Mines Hospital where they are currently admitted.
The injured include the family’s eldest daughter Jorita Mbindule aged 15 and James Thembo. Kilembe Mines Hospital was last year shifted from Kilembe valley in Bulembia Division of Kasese Municipality to Kasese town when the area was ravaged by floods that hit the health facility badly.
The third person is miss Edrona Rwasanga Biira, a resident in the neighborhood who was also killed by the waters of Kinyantokoli stream on the same fateful day.
The deceased aged 68 was by the time of her death residing in Kilembe Mines Camp. Her son, Mr. Nason Kambere narrated to this reporter that his mother was taken by the stream as she was scampering for her dear life.
According to Mr. Kambere, 52, Biira’s house was is in the middle of Kinyantokoli stream and river Nyamwamba.
At around 4am, the two rivers flooded and the neighbors heard a strong sound with bolds from river Nyamwamba, which allegedly forced the deceased to wake up and in fear of what was happening, she tried to cross to the other side of Bunyandiko village for her precious life but she drowned into Kinyantokoli stream which had also increased its water volume and swept her into the bigger Nyamwamba River which had also flooded.
” The first rain befell the area at 4am and stopped after two hours, I rushed at my mother’s home and found her door was opened, a few meters from her house, I discovered the keys and we waited the sun to set so that we search for her, in the morning we asked neighbors if she had taken refuge from their homes but she was nowhere to be seen until 10 am when we heard that someone had been seen lying dead in the middle of the river at the mill”, Said grieved Kambere.
Today morning, waters of major rivers streaming from Mount Rwenzori had changed colour and were all smelling.
So the body of Biira was taken about two Kilometers from her house in Kyanjuki cell and was discovered lifelessly lying at Kilembe Mines 43 Mill. At around 11am, her body was retrieved by police attached to Kilembe Police Station and later handed to her relatives who had clearly identified her.
Kasese district has experienced catastrophes including earthquake, landslides and floods. In 1996, a heavy earthquake struck the whole of Rwenzori region including Kasese district and killed people in many areas of the district including Kilembe.
Since 2011, more than 20 people have perished in landslides with the latest being the death of three children who were buried by mudflow in Namhuga West Cell in Bulembia Division of Kasese Municipality in 2019. Floods have also severally hit Kasese district year after year especially in the month of May since 2013.
Mr. Edmon Baluku, the Village chairperson for Katulu, a village that neighbors Bunyandiko says his area was equally affected.
Mr. Baluku revealed that the catastrophe has damaged houses and crops like coffee, banana plantations, cassava and beans. According to Baluku, over 486 households have been affected.
Miss Harriet Kabugho aged 34 and a mother to six children says her house is also on the verge of collapsing if the rains continue.
“The upper side of my house has already developed fault lines and I am suspecting that it might hit the house and cause damages”, Kabugho said.
She suggests to government to relocate the people staying in steep areas that are prone to landslides.
Miss Zeria Kabugho, another resident in the area explained that government should immediately come to their rescue since some water sources have been contaminated by filthy materials that were washed away from the hills down the valleys where they fetch water for domestic use.
She attributes the increasing cases of climatic change to the continuous destruction of the nature through cutting down trees without replacing them.
The National Environmental Authority-advises that if you cut one tree, plant three more trees but the directive seems to have landed on deaf ears in Kasese district.
Mr. Fred Tugume Kalende, the District Councilor representing Kilembe sub county says they are compiling a report that they will send to the District Disaster Management Committee.
Mr. Sylvester Kule Walyuba, an Environmentalist says family heads need to consider shifting their children from sleeping in the upper rooms of the houses to those located in the lower sides arguing that almost all cases of people being buried by mudflow involve people sleeping in the upper rooms.
Uganda National Meteorological Authority –UNMA predicted that rains would be much between March and May and the cessation would reduce in June.