October 1, 2023

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Heavy rains, floods kill at least 136 in Rwanda and Uganda

Heavy rains, floods kill at least 136 in Rwanda and Uganda

  • Rain causes floods and landslides
  • Rescue workers are searching for people trapped in homes
  • Six dead in Uganda from mudslides

NAIROBI (Reuters) – Floods and landslides triggered by torrential rain have killed at least 129 people in Rwanda and six in Uganda, authorities said on Wednesday, as rescuers searched for survivors trapped in homes.

In chaotic scenes after weeks of rain in the region, video broadcast by the state-owned Rwanda Broadcasting Agency showed muddy water pouring down a flooded road destroying homes.

“We woke up at two in the morning and heard screaming,” said Angelique Nybaguire, 47, from Karongi district in western Rwanda, where at least 16 people were killed.

Another resident of the area, Nyandwe Emmanuel, said three of his relatives died after a house he was renting to them collapsed while they slept at night.

Alan Mukurarinda, a deputy spokesperson for the Rwandan government, said the death toll had risen to 129 by 3:30 p.m. local time (01:30 GMT)

“Our main priority now is to reach every home that has been damaged to ensure we can rescue anyone who may be trapped,” said Fran├žois Haptigiko, Governor of Rwanda’s Western Province.

He added that some people were rescued and taken to hospital.

Habitegeko said the Sebeya River had burst its banks.

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

President Paul Kagame said in a statement that his government is helping those affected, including with temporary transfers.

In a mountainous area in neighboring Uganda near the border with Rwanda, six people died on Wednesday night in the southwestern district of Kisoro, the Uganda Red Cross said.

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It added in a statement that five were from the same family and emergency workers began excavations to recover the bodies.

Rwanda and Uganda have been experiencing heavy, continuous rains since late March. Landslides have been reported in other higher altitude areas of Uganda, such as Kasese near the Rwenzori Mountains, where flash floods and floods have destroyed homes and displaced hundreds.

(Reporting by George Obulutsa) Editing by Alexander Winning

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