June 18, 2020 / 5:38 PM / 20 days ago

At least 13 killed in landslide in Ivory Coast's main city

ABIDJAN (Reuters) - A landslide on the outskirts of Ivory Coast’s main city of Abidjan in the early hours of Thursday caused by heavy rains killed at least 13 people, the defence minister said.

The landslide occurred on the northern outskirts of Abidjan, where some neighbourhoods saw more than three times as much rain between June 12 and 15 than is usual, according to Ivory Coast’s weather service.

“The provisional toll is 13 dead,” defence minister Hamed Bakayoko told journalists.

Amidou Sylla, mayor of Anyama, told Reuters the death toll was set to rise.

“The toll could get higher with ongoing search. We could have at least 20 dead as a result of the landslides because there are still a lot of houses to explore,” Sylla said.

Landslides and deadly floods are common in Abidjan during the rainy season, which runs from April to the end of October, routinely costing lives in informal settlements built into eroding hillsides.

There were heavy downpours in other parts of the country as well this week, raising concerns they could damage crops in the world’s top cocoa producer.

Farmers in the western region of Soubre, at the heart of the Ivorian cocoa belt, said the rains were so heavy they fear the torrents could pluck off young pods and flowers from trees. This could reduce crop output in August and September.

They added that harvested beans could become mouldy in the coming week as the weather remained cloudy, making it difficult to dry their beans properly because of lack of sunshine.

“The rains are a bit heavy,” said Salame Kone, who farms near Soubre, adding that if it continues, farms could become flooded.

Data collected by Reuters showed rainfall in Soubre was 229.3 millimetres in the week to Wednesday, 175.2 mm above the five-year average.

Reporting by Ange Aboa and Loucoumane Coulibaly; Writing by Aaron Ross and Bate Felix; Editing by Susan Fenton

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