The Rwanda Broadcasting Agency (RBA) reported on Wednesday (May 3) that heavy rainfall and flooding in northern and western Rwanda have resulted in the deaths of at least 115 individuals. The RBA also stated that floodwaters are continuing to rise, posing a danger to more people. The agency shared images that depicted muddy water rapidly streaming down a flooded road and homes that had been destroyed.
Speaking to the news agency Reuters, François Habitegeko, governor of Rwanda’s Western Province, said the main priority was to reach every house that had been damaged to ensure authorities can rescue any person who might be trapped. Habitegeko said that some people were rescued and hospitalised, but did not mention the figure.
The governor also said that the hardest-hit districts in the Western Province were Rutsiro, Nyabihu, Rubavu and Ngororero.
On Wednesday, Rwandan Minister in charge of Emergency Management Marie Solange Kayisire said that relief efforts began immediately, including helping to bury victims of the disaster and providing supplies to those whose homes were destroyed.
Kayisire called on residents to increase patrols, especially at night, so people could be moved to safer ground when it rains heavily.
Meanwhile, in neighbouring Uganda, six people died in the west of the country when landslides struck their homes after days of torrential rain, according to the local Red Cross.
East Africa often suffers from flooding and landslides during the rainy season.
Experts say extreme weather events are happening with increased frequency and intensity due to climate change — and Africa, which contributes the least to global warming, is bearing the brunt.