| 30 November 2023, Thursday |

Heavy rain, floods kill at least 109 in Rwanda, six in Uganda

Heavy rain caused flooding and landslides in western and northern Rwanda, killing at least 109 people, according to the state-run radio, while police looked for survivors stranded in their houses.

In a video footage uploaded by the Rwanda Broadcasting Agency, muddy water surged quickly along a flooded road, destroying buildings.

“Our main priority now is to reach every house that has been damaged to ensure we can rescue any person who may be trapped,” said François Habitegeko, governor of Rwanda’s Western Province, to Reuters.

The death toll stood at 95 in the province, he said. The state broadcaster’s toll of 109 included deaths from a second region, the Northern Province.

Some people had been rescued and taken to hospital, Habitegeko said, but did not say how many.

The hardest-hit districts in the Western Province were Rutsiro, with 26 dead, Nyabihu with 19, and 18 each in Rubavu and Ngororero, he said.

Habitegeko said the rain started at about 6 p.m. (1600 GMT) on Tuesday and that the River Sebeya had burst its banks.

“The soil was already soaked from the previous days of rain, which caused landslides that closed roads,” he said.

The Rwanda Meteorology Agency has forecast rainfall above the average in May for the East African nation.

In neighbouring Uganda near the border with Rwanda, six people died overnight into Wednesday in an area in the southwestern Kisoro district, after heavy rains pounded the mountainous region, according to the Uganda Red Cross.

Five of the dead are from one family, and emergency workers have begun excavations to retrieve the bodies, the Red Cross said in a statement

Uganda has also been experiencing heavy and sustained rains since late March and in recent days landslides have been reported in other elevated areas, like Kasese near the Rwenzori mountains, where deluges and floods destroyed homes and displaced hundreds.

  • Reuters