Yaounde – At least 15 people died when a landslide engulfed members of a funeral party in the Cameroonian capital of Yaounde, the local governor said on Monday.
The victims had gathered in marquees at the top of a hill for a memorial service on Sunday when the ground collapsed.
At least one of the tents and the people beneath it were swept away.
“We are now at 15 dead,” Naseri Paul Bea, governor of the Centre region which includes Yaounde, told AFP, updating an earlier death toll of 11.
A dozen members of the fire brigade were shovelling away a huge mound of reddish soil at the foot of the hill to search for victims.
Nearby, a stream of people went to two houses to present their condolences to the newly-bereaved families.
Sunday’s service had been intended as a memorial tribute to five members of a local association who had died this year.
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The disaster took place in Yaounde’s working-class district of Damas, on its eastern outskirts.
Four large white marquees remained on the hill’s summit, at the edge of what seemed to be a ridge, beyond which the ground had opened up, an AFP journalist saw.
The search had been suspended late on Sunday evening.
Marie Claire Mendouga, 50, attended the ceremony but her tent was not affected by the landslide.
“We had just started to dance when the ground collapsed,” she told AFP on Sunday.
She said she “went to dig with my hands” to try to extract victims, and was still covered in brown clay.
Landslides occur relatively frequently in Cameroon, but they are rarely as deadly as Sunday’s incident.
Forty-three people were killed in the western city of Bafoussam in 2019, when a landslide triggered by heavy rains swept away a dozen flimsy dwellings built on the side of a hill.
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