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Dozens killed after Ethiopia rubbish dump landslide

At least 46 people have been killed after a mountain of rubbish gave way at a massive dump on the outskirts of Ethiopia's capital.

Addis Ababa city spokeswoman Dagmawit Moges said most of the 46 dead were women and children, and more bodies were expected to be found in the coming hours.

It was not immediately clear what caused Saturday night's collapse at the Koshe Garbage Landfill, which buried several makeshift homes and concrete buildings.

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

About 150 people were there when the landslide occurred, resident Assefa Teklemahimanot said.

Addis Ababa mayor Diriba Kuma said 37 people had been rescued and were receiving medical treatment.

Many people at the landfill had been scavenging items to make a living but others live there because renting homes, largely built of mud and sticks, is relatively inexpensive.

"My house was right inside there," said a shaken Tebeju Asres, pointing to where one of the excavators was digging in deep, black mud.

"My mother and three of my sisters were there when the landslide happened. Now I don't know the fate of all of them."

The resumption of garbage dumping at the site in recent months probably caused the landslide, Ms Teklemahimanot said.

The dumping had stopped in recent years but it resumed after farmers in a nearby restive region where a new 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.

"In the long run, we will conduct a resettling programme to relocate people who live in and around the landfill," the Addis Ababa mayor 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.

Since 2010, city officials have warned that the landfill was running out of room and was being closed in by nearby housing and schools.

Ethiopia, which has one of Africa's fastest-growing economies, is under a state of emergency imposed in October after several months of sometimes deadly protests demanding wider political freedoms.

AP

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