KAMPALA (AFP) - A mudslide buried at least 15 houses Monday when it tore through two hamlets in a region of eastern Uganda where hundreds have perished in similar disasters in recent years, the Red Cross said.
"We know that at least 15 houses have been buried but we do not know how many people were inside them," Red Cross spokeswoman Catherine Ntabadde said.
She said emergency teams were trawling the site to try to establish the number of people killed in the slide but that local authorities estimate around 80 people live in each hamlet.
Nine people have been taken to a nearby hospital with injuries, Ntabadde said.
The landslide ripped through the villages of Namaga and Bunakasala in the mountainous Bududa district in the foothills of Mount Elgon which straddles the border with Kenya.
The Ugandan government also said it would be premature to come up with a toll.
"Deaths have occurred and homes have been destroyed but we have not yet confirmed the details and our team will be there tomorrow morning," Stephen Malinga, the minister for relief and disaster preparedness, told AFP.
A third settlement may also have been affected, he said.
This is the third time eastern Uganda has been hit by deadly mudslides in three years. Last year two dozen people were buried alive when mud engulfed their homes in Mabono village.
In March 2010, a mudslide in the same district as Monday's is estimated to have killed more than 300 people.
After that incident the Ugandan authorities said they would resettle around half a million people living in mountainous areas to lessen the risk of mudslides.
Some 300,000 from the eastern Mount Elgon region were to be affected, together with a further 200,000 from the mountainous areas of western Uganda.
As of the end of last year however, no such large-scale resettlement programmes were under way.
The government had built houses for 100 of the 600 families left homeless by the 2010 mudslide, with the remaining 500 families relocated but in temporary shelters.