Tragedy struck northern Tanzania as heavy rainfall triggered landslides, claiming the lives of at least 47 people and injuring 85 others, according to local officials.
The landslides, a consequence of flooding in the town of Katesh, situated 300km north of Dodoma, have prompted warnings that the death toll could rise as rescue efforts continue.
District Commissioner Janeth Mayanja reported that incessant rain on Saturday led to the landslides, which have not only claimed lives but have also left many roads blocked by mud, water, and debris, hampering rescue operations in the affected area.
Tanzania’s President, Samia Suluhu Hassan, currently in Dubai for the COP28 climate conference, expressed her condolences and announced the deployment of additional government resources to aid in the rescue efforts. In a video message posted online by the Tanzanian Ministry of Health, President Hassan expressed shock at the incident and pledged support for the affected community.
The devastating landslides come as East Africa grapples with the aftermath of an unprecedented drought, followed by weeks of torrential rain and flooding linked to the El Nino weather phenomenon. The impact of this extreme weather is felt across the region, with over a million people displaced in Somalia and hundreds dead. In May, Rwanda experienced fatal floods and landslides, resulting in the deaths of at least 130 people.
The Horn of Africa has become increasingly vulnerable to climate change, witnessing more frequent and intense extreme weather events. Since late 2020, Somalia, Ethiopia, and Kenya have been experiencing the region’s worst drought in 40 years.
African leaders, acknowledging the urgent need for climate action, are pushing for new global taxes and changes to international financial institutions to address climate change. At the COP28 summit in Dubai, a “loss and damage” fund was launched to hold historical polluters accountable for damages sustained by countries most affected by the climate crisis.
While 118 countries pledged to boost clean energy at the summit, the global community still falls short of the Paris Agreement’s target to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Scientists warn that the worst effects of the current El Nino are expected to be felt at the end of 2023 and into the following year, emphasizing the critical need for immediate and comprehensive climate action.