Search for victims, houses destroyed by the thousands, roads cut: Rwanda continued Thursday to assess the damage caused by floods which have so far killed 130 people, one of the worst disasters in recent years in this country.
Torrential rains overnight from Tuesday to Wednesday caused devastating floods and landslides in the North, West and South provinces.
"The death toll is now 130," Rwandan deputy government spokesman Alain Mukuralinda told AFP, adding that five missing persons were still wanted.
In addition, 77 people were injured, 36 of whom were still hospitalized Thursday morning.
"We don't know the total number of homeless people at the moment, the count is in progress. What we do know is that more than 5,100 houses were destroyed and they were all housing families," said Alain Mukuralinda.
Some 2,500 houses were also partially destroyed, according to government counts.
In Karongi District, Western Province, more than 370 families - more than 1,440 people - have been relocated to temporary shelters, according to the Rwanda Broadcasting Agency (RBA), which oversees radio and television. public television.
Among the victims, Anonciata mourns one of her sons. "I found my child buried under stones and bricks that fell on him during the heavy rains. He died in hospital," she told AFP. "Another one of my children was also seriously injured in the head. I pray that he survives."
For Imacule Kankwanzi, normal life cannot resume in her village: there is nothing to eat and the roads are blocked. "Our homes are either destroyed or flooded," she told AFP. "My house is completely under water. We are in despair", sums up this woman.
Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente, who began a visit to the most affected areas on Thursday, visited families preparing the burial of their loved ones.
In Rubavu, a town in the west of the country, the flooding of the Sebaya River, which flows into Lake Kivu a few kilometers downstream, caused significant damage.
Resident Jacqueline Mukamana rushed out of her home at midnight when neighbors alerted her that the river was bursting its banks. "Our house, and everything (the rest), was destroyed," she told AFP.
Another resident, Paul Bizimana, was relieved to have managed to get his family out: "I managed to save my children and my family members (...) At least they are safe".
Rwandan police say three major roads in Western Province are "temporarily impassable".
The government announced that it would grant compensation to the families of victims of 100,000 Rwandan francs (80 euros) per relative who died in the disaster.
Pope Francis said on Thursday he was "deeply saddened by the deaths and the destruction", saying he prayed for the dead, the injured, the displaced and the rescuers.
East Africa regularly experiences floods and landslides during the rainy seasons, the heaviest of which occurs from March to May. Their intensity and frequency should continue to increase with climate change, say meteorological experts.
In Uganda, six people were killed on Wednesday in a landslide in the Kisoro region, in the southwest, not far from the Rwandan border, according to the local Red Cross.
In Ethiopia last month, at least 14 people died from floods and landslides triggered by heavy rains in the south, while hundreds of cattle died and dozens of homes were damaged.
In 2018, at least 215 people were killed in Rwanda in the first four months of the year by floods and landslides caused by heavy rainfall, according to government figures.
By the end of 2019, two months of unrelenting rains that led to flooding and mudslides had killed at least 265 people and displaced hundreds of thousands across the region, including in Burundi, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and South Sudan. South.
04/05/2023 18:34:29 - Rubavu (Rwanda) (AFP) - © 2023 AFP