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Floods and landslides kill 9, affect thousands in Rwanda and Burundi, East Africa


Intense rainfall from April 17 to 20, 2020, has resulted in fatal flooding and landslides in Rwanda and Burundi. Local media confirmed nine fatalities and around 27 000 people affected.

In Rwanda, downpours triggered landslides in the district of Gicumbi in the Northern Province, with the most affected areas being Nyankenke and Kageyo Sectors.

Officials reported damage to properties and six fatalities in Gicumbi. "Gicumbi District is saddened to announce the death of six residents who were killed through landslides triggered by the rain which majorly pounded several parts of Nyankenke and Kageyo Sectors," district mayor Felix Ndayambaje stated.

Public infrastructure, including roads from various parts of the district, was hit badly. In addition, livestock also perished, such as goats and hens. About 48 house units were destroyed, while roughly 2 ha (5 acres) of various crops were washed away, as well as a total of 15 ha (37 acres) of soybean at Bushobora cell in the Remera Sector.

The mayor also urged residents who still remain in vulnerable zones to evacuate to safer areas, noting that officials were ordered to assist in the relocation process.

"As we speak some of those who have been mapped to be in high-risk zones were relocated to stay with their neighbors pending a long-lasting solution that the district will take in the near future." 

In a separate tragedy, three fatalities were confirmed in the district of Gatsibo. The victims– an elderly man, a woman, and a teenager– died after being swept away by severe flash flooding, according to Niyonziza Felecien Executive Secretary Remera Sector.

Their bodies have been taken to Kiziguro hospital for postmortem," said Felecien.

Meteo Rwanda has issued further heavy rainfall warnings, with up to 60 mm (2.4 inches) of rain per day likely until April 26.

In the neighboring country of Burundi, parts of the Bujumbura Province were impacted by heavy rainfall. The Ministry of Security reported that homes and infrastructure were affected in Gatumba after the Rusizi River became swollen on Monday.

About 6 000 households or 27 000 individuals have been suffering due to the severe weather. Authorities have been working in the afflicted areas to coordinate rescue operations and evacuations. As of April 21, no fatalities or injuries had been reported.

Gatumba is located roughly 15 km (9 miles) east of Uvira in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where flooding also occurred following days of heavy rain. As of April 20, at least 36 fatalities had been confirmed and more than 77 000 people have been left homeless.

Another East African country, Kenya, also had to deal with the aftermath of devastating landslides and flash flooding over the weekend. The counties of Elgeyo Marakwet and West Pokot were affected badly as rains left a trail of destruction.

At least 4 000 people had been displaced so far, while six lost their lives due to landslides.

Heavy rains from April 16 to 17, 2020, triggered severe flooding in parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo, resulting in significant damage and destruction. As of April 20, at least 36 fatalities were reported, 42 people were injured.

The city of Uvira and surrounding areas in South Kivu have been the worst affected.

Initial estimates mention 3 500 destroyed homes, 15 000 damaged, and 7 damaged or destroyed bridges in Runingu, Luberizi, Sange, and Luvungi. More than 77 000 people were left without homeless as roads have also been cut off. 

Featured image credit: The Human Rights Defenders Network Burundi

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