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Heavy rains: Death toll rises to 19

People struggle to navigate through a flooded road. Heavy rains over the last few days caused the death of 19 people and damaged a lot of property. / Photo: E. Kwizera.

The number of confirmed deaths from torrential rains across the country since Sunday has risen to 19 after authorities initially put the number at 13 on Sunday, February 2.

The toll rose partly as a result of another downpour on Monday, February 4, after the Emergency Ministry announced the initial damages.

 

The downpour in Kigali started around 6:30 pm on Sunday evening and lasted nearly four hours. It was almost the same in different other parts of the country, but according to Rwanda Meteorology Agency, it had started earlier in districts like Gicumbi and Nyaruguru.

 

The highest measurement was, a day later, 79 millimetres between four and five hours in Gitega followed by Kanombe with 50 millimetres, both stations in Kigali. In other words, the figure means that one square meter received 79 litres of rain.

 

Besides the loss of lives, the updated account of damages reports 8 injuries, 98 houses destroyed, 2 livestock and 21 hectares of farmland. The infrastructure, in addition, lost 3 roads, 2 bridges, and one water supply system.

Landslides alone, according to the report, claimed all the lives while the houses were destroyed by the heavy rains. The infrastructure was wrecked by floods and one injury was caused by a thunderstrike.

With an exception in Gicumbi district which recorded the highest number of damaged houses (40), the city of Kigali reports the worst losses - a total of 23 houses in Kicukiro and Nyarugenge.

And of 19 confirmed deaths, 14 were reported in the same districts in the capital.

Still, the value of total losses is not yet ascertained.

One of the most unfortunate fatalities was reported in Jali Sector, Gasabo District where a family of seven was carried away and dumped into Yanze river on the night of February 3.

The weather agency had earlier issued a warning weather forecast bracketing the end of January and the beginning of February. The outlook forewarned against heavy rainfall in different parts of the country and cautioned more destruction could occur as the soil was still moist from recent precipitation.

Mathieu Mbati Mugungu, the Division Manager of Weather and Climate Service and Application at Rwanda Meteorological Agency, told The NewTimes on Tuesday that soil moisture is to blame for most damages.

“What caused floods in some places like Nyabugogo, Gisozi and Gatsata, is that the rain found a lot of water kept in the soil that had been soaked up from the last deluge and unleashed it, hence more flooding,” he said.

Two months ago, over 6,000 people were evacuated from areas likely to experience climatic disasters of which half were in Kigali.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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