Many villagers were feared dead in eastern Uganda on Monday after a landslide buried several settlements on the slopes of Mt. Elgon which straddles the Kenyan border, local media reports said.
Some reports said about 10 people had been killed in the landslide, while the local member of parliament, David Wakikona, told Reuters that up to 100 people could have been buried. This could not be independently verified.
"Three villages have been flattened in the Bumwalukani parish on the slopes of Mt. Elgon and the initial reports I have is that more than 100 have been buried," he said.
"The areas around Bududa district have been experiencing heavy rains for days now and I am told the landslides started around midday today and that they're still going on and some villagers who survived the early slides are fleeing."
Landslides caused by heavy rains are frequent in eastern Uganda where at least 23 people were killed last year after mounds of mud buried their homes. Scores of others were buried alive in a similar disaster in March 2010.
The area affected produces coffee in what is the third biggest economy in east Africa.
Stephen Mallinga, Minister for Relief and Disaster Preparedness, confirmed the landslides, saying there definitely had been fatalities, but he said it was unclear how many people had been killed.
"We don't have full details, but have confirmed two landslides have hit three villages in Bududa around 2pm today. Obviously there are casualties, but we don't know how many yet," he said.
"Our response team has already left and we hope to get a clearer picture by tomorrow (Tuesday) morning. We're also mobilising relief items like food, tents and water containers."
The Uganda Red Cross Society said it had sent a team of volunteers to assess the situation. Local authorities have said there could be about 80 people living in each village.
"We have reports of landslides in Bududa but we have no word on casualties yet. We have sent out teams but we haven't heard from them yet," Catherine Ntabadde, a spokeswoman for Uganda Red Cross said.
Nine people had been injured and 15 houses buried in the mudslide, while 29 houses were at risk and needed to be urgently relocated, she added.
Rain has fallen over parts of Uganda in a sustained fashion for much of the past two months, even though it is usually a dry period between the rainy seasons.