Officials say 9 people were injured and countless more may be missing
The landslide occurred in villages in the mountainous district of Bududa on Monday
Torrential downpours regularly cause landslides in the eastern part of the country
The death toll from a landslide that buried three villages in eastern Uganda stood at 18 Tuesday, and rescue officials fear the figure will rise.
Another nine were injured and countless more may be missing, the Red Cross said.
Heavy rains sent rocks and mud crashing down on the villages in the mountainous district of Bududa on Monday, about 275 kilometers (170 miles) northeast of the capital Kampala. At least 15 homes were destroyed, said Catherine Ntabadde of the Uganda Red Cross Society.
“Last night district authorities requested all people in high risk places to move to a school that we are using as a primary camp,” Ntabadde said Tuesday.
No bodies have been recovered due to the heavy debris that has buried some of the victims 100 meters deep, Ntabadde said. Additional equipment is expected to arrive in the remote area Wednesday to assist in the excavation.
The Red Cross is working alongside members of the Ugandan army to relocate more than 1,000 people.
“People are a bit reluctant to move until an incident like this happens. People want to stay near their homes and find out what happened to their loved ones and their belongings,” Ntabadde said.
Torrential downpours regularly cause landslides in the eastern part of the country, particularly in areas where heavy logging has left the land stripped of vegetation.
Last August, at least 23 people died when a massive landslide swallowed homes in the Bulambuli district, about 300 kilometers (186 miles) from Kampala.
In 2010, another landslide in the same region killed at least 87.
CNN’s Aliza Kassim and journalist Sumit Galhotra contributed to this report.