The earthquake that hit the Rusizi District on Sunday has left 37 dead and 1,000 injured, Jean-Pierre Turatsinze, the Mayor of Rusizi said in an interview yesterday.
The majority of casualties occurred in churches.
Yesterday, a ceremony was held for the burial of 13 people who were killed in Nkanka Catholic Church. As the mass was coming to an end at 9:30 am on Sunday morning, a tremor was felt and the 2,500-strong congregation rushed for the exit.
Abbot Gaspard Ntakirutimana, the priest who was leading the mass, explained yesterday:
“The walls began to crack. Everyone was terrified.”
The church steeple collapsed, crushing those who ran for safety. Twelve were immediately killed; one died some hours later in hospital.
Dr Theophile Dushime, the Director of Gihundwe Hospital, one of Cyangugu’s four hospitals, said that of the 220 who came to the hospital. Six have since died.
Many people made the journey to the hospital by foot. There were those who walked up to seven kilometres.
The majority of injuries are fractures and head injuries caused by debris that fell from buildings. The hospital is also treating those suffering from psychological trauma.
A representative of the Red Cross, Alexi Nsabimana, said that they had come from Kigali to distribute medicines, but that the hospital was badly in need of more beds.
“We just have too many patients,” Dushime said.
Eighteen of the most severely injured were taken to Kigali on Sunday evening.
Dr Dushime is worried that Gihundwe Hospital’s supplies are being rapidly used up.
“We cannot cope with any more patients,” he said
Throughout the early hours of Monday morning, there were up to five aftershocks (tremors), which left the people of Cyangugu sleeping in the streets.
“We do not dare go inside (houses),” one lady explained.
William Ngabo of World Vision who is in charge of Humanitarian Emergences Affairs in Rwanda, said last evening that so far it is estimated that 259 houses have been completely destroyed. “There are also many houses that are severely cracked leaving them vulnerable to future tremors,” he added