Torrential rains sparked the partial collapse of a 50-foot high mountain of garbage in Mozambique’s capital Monday, killing at least 17 people, and possibly trapping others under debris, according to reports.

A search began shortly after the garbage gave way, as officials believe more bodies were submerged under the Hulene garbage dump outside of Maputo, the Associated Press reported. 

The garbage pile accumulated to the size of a three-story building, according to the Portuguese news agency Lusa.

"The mountains of garbage collapsed on the houses and many families were still inside these residences," Fatima Belchoir, a national disaster official, told Lusa.

"Up to now, 17 dead bodies were recovered," said Despedida Rita, a counselor for the Ka Mavota Municipal District. "We fear more might be unaccounted for so we will keep searching for bodies buried underneath the rubbish pile."

Twelve people died, Lusa said. But Radio Mocambique logged the death toll at 17, according to Fox News. The mound reportedly destroyed five homes.

Displaced Maputo resident Maria Huo told BBC News that the accident also injured her son.

"I live in this neighborhood because I have nowhere to go" she said. "Had the government told me to go to another place to live, I would have left here."

The area, which is densely populated and lacking resources, has seen heavy rain and flooding since Sunday, ​BBC reported. 

Authorities have warned residents in the past to evacuate their homes, which were illegally built, according to Reuters.

Residents frequent the Hulene garbage dump, looking for food and things to sell. Municipal officials have engaged in talks to have the site shut down.