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Resident are seen standing in the town of Katesh, in Tanzania, Sunday, Dec 3, 2023. At least 40 people have been killed and 80 others injured in landslides caused by flooding in northern Tanzania, a local official has said, with warnings the toll would rise.(AP Photo).

Death toll from Tanzania landslides rises to 57

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At least 57 people were killed and many more feared trapped under debris following landslides and flooding triggered by heavy rainfall in northern Tanzania, the president and officials said on Monday.

Torrential downpours at the weekend washed away vehicles and brought down buildings in the hillside town of Katesh, some 300 kilometres (186 miles) north of the capital Dodoma.

“So far we have lost 57 of our brothers and sisters in this disaster, while 85 are still receiving treatment,” said President Samia Suluhu Hassan, who cut short her visit to Dubai for the COP28 climate talks.

On Sunday, regional commissioner Queen Sendiga had said there were 47 dead.

Search and rescue operations were underway with the help of the military as people were feared trapped or buried in thick mud, said Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa, who visited the town.

Tanzania and its East African neighbours Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia are battling flash floods caused by torrential rains linked to the El Nino weather pattern.

The floods are exacerbating the humanitarian crisis in the region just as it emerges from the worst drought in four decades that left millions of people hungry.

Between October 1997 and January 1998, massive flooding aggravated by heavy El Nino rains caused more than 6,000 deaths in five countries in the region.

Scientists say extreme weather events such as flooding, storms, droughts and wildfires are being made longer, more intense and more frequent by human-induced climate change.

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