Severe storm hits Rwanda's capital Kigali, destroying more than 110 homes and killing 12

Severe storm hits Rwanda's capital Kigali, destroying more than 110 homes and killing 12

Heavy downpour hit Rwanda's capital and largest city, Kigali, on the night of Christmas, December 25, 2019, killing 12 people. The storm also destroyed a least 113 houses, 49 ha (121 acres) of agricultural fields, and several infrastructures including roads and water treatment plants.

"It's unfortunate that we confirm that 12 people have died due to heavy rains that hit different parts of our country on Christmas night," said Rwanda's Minister of Local Government Anastase Shyaka at a press conference. "I don't think there was such rain ever in Kigali."

Shyaka advised citizens residing in high-risk zones and wetlands to evacuate to avoid further flooding and landslides.

He said the death toll could have been higher if people living in the wetlands had not been promptly evacuated prior to the disaster. About 6 000 Rwandan households in high-risk zones and wetlands in different parts of Rwanda were relocated to safe areas for the past three weeks.

This year, floods and landslides triggered by heavy rains have affected 22 national roads, and 42 districts roads and bridges, according to Rwandan Minister of Infrastructure Claver Gatete said last week.

"We were expecting average rain by winds from the Indian Ocean. But in the evening, we saw clouds coming from the western region which resulted in the heavy rainfall," said Amiable Gahigi, Director General of Rwanda Meteorology Agency.

Extreme weather events have caused over 250 deaths in the country in 2018, while this year, there have been 100 fatalities, some 5 000 houses damaged, and more than 9 000 ha (22 239 acres) of plantations destroyed.

Featured image credit: Dedicated Youth for Environmental Sustainability

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