In the days since Repi landfill (‘Koshe’) collapsed and killed at least 113, grieving survivors have been tormented by a pressing question: Could this tragedy have been prevented?

By Hadra Ahmed & Jacey Fortin (The New York Times) |

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia—At the moment when she lost her home and family, Hanna Tsegaye was spending her Saturday night with a neighborhood friend.

Around 8 p.m. on March 11, Ms. Hanna, 16, heard a strange sound, like rushing wind, and felt the ground shake beneath her feet. She rushed outside and saw that an enormous pile of garbage at a nearby landfill had collapsed.

Her home, which had been a couple of hundred yards from the trash heap, was buried. So were her parents and two siblings.

At least 113 people, according to the latest government estimate, were killed when part of the Repi landfill (commonly known as Koshe), in the southwest of Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, collapsed. In the days since, grieving survivors have been tormented by a pressing question: Could this tragedy have been prevented?

“We don’t know how such a thing could happen,” a weeping Ms. Hanna said. “Hopefully, someone can tell us and find a solution for the future. I hope this can be a lesson for the government, and that they remember us.”

The disaster is at odds with the image Ethiopia wants to project as a rapidly developing country. Poverty rates have decreased by more than 30 percent since 2000, according to the World Bank, and government officials have claimed economic growth in the double digits over the last decade. Addis Ababa, home to the African Union, is a bustling city where new malls, hotels and apartment buildings are constantly being built.

Continue reading this story on The New York Times
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