Heavy rainfall in Yaounde, the capital of Cameroon, led to a fatal landslide, resulting in the loss of at least 23 lives, as confirmed by firefighters on Monday. They are currently conducting search and rescue operations to find any additional victims. In Yaounde, landslides are a common occurrence during the rainy season, exacerbated by the precarious construction of houses on the city’s numerous hills.
The most recent incident took place on Sunday evening in the Mbankolo district, located to the northwest of Yaounde and housing nearly three million people. The catastrophic event was triggered by torrential rain causing the breach of a dam that held back an artificial lake on higher ground, as reported by the public broadcaster CRTV.
David Petatoa Poufong, the second in command of the fire service, informed reporters at the scene that they had recovered 15 bodies on the previous day and had found eight more that morning. Their search efforts are ongoing.
Distraught family members observed as firefighters removed the bodies of some victims, covered with sheets. A security perimeter was established to prevent onlookers and media from approaching the landslide site.
Television broadcasts displayed the extensive damage, with a substantial portion of a hill collapsing and remnants of houses constructed primarily from wood, dried earth bricks, and metal sheeting. In the distance, the remains of hillside dwellings swept away by the landslide were visible, according to an AFP journalist.
Daouda Ousmanou, a local administrative official, announced on public radio that the landslide occurred following heavy rain, which caused water to sweep away everything in its path.
Approximately 30 houses were destroyed by the mudslide, as reported by CRTV, which also aired images depicting torrents of water and mud flowing during the night.
This tragic event serves as a reminder of the vulnerability of certain areas to landslides during the rainy season. In the past, similar incidents have occurred in Yaounde, such as the landslide in Damas in November of the previous year, which claimed the lives of at least 15 people, and the 2019 landslide in Bafoussam, where 43 individuals lost their lives due to heavy rains triggering the collapse of flimsy dwellings built on a hillside.