Heavy rain that sparked flooding and landslides in western and northern Rwanda has killed at least 109 people, the state-run broadcaster said on Wednesday, as authorities searched for survivors trapped in their homes.
Muddy water flowed swiftly down an inundated road and destroyed houses in a video clip posted by the Rwanda Broadcasting Agency.
“Our main priority now is to reach every house that has been damaged to ensure we can rescue any person who may be trapped,” François Habitegeko, governor of Rwanda’s Western Province, told Reuters.
The death toll stood at 95 in the province, he said. The state broadcaster’s toll of 109 included deaths from a second region, the Northern Province.
Some people had been rescued and taken to hospital, Habitegeko said, but did not say how many.
The hardest-hit districts in the Western Province were Rutsiro, with 26 dead, Nyabihu with 19, and 18 each in Rubavu and Ngororero, he said.
Habitegeko said the rain started at about 6 p.m. (1600 GMT) on Tuesday and that the River Sebeya had burst its banks.
“The soil was already soaked from the previous days of rain, which caused landslides that closed roads,” he said.
The Rwanda Meteorology Agency has forecast rainfall above the average in May for the East African nation.
In neighbouring Uganda near the border with Rwanda, six people died overnight into Wednesday in an area in the southwestern Kisoro district, after heavy rains pounded the mountainous region, according to the Uganda Red Cross.
Five of the dead are from one family, and emergency workers have begun excavations to retrieve the bodies, the Red Cross said in a statement.
Uganda has also been experiencing heavy and sustained rains since late March and in recent days landslides have been reported in other elevated areas, like Kasese near the Ruwenzori mountains, where deluges and floods destroyed homes and displaced hundreds.