Two worshippers died when a Pentecostal church in Bushoga, Nyagatare District collapsed Wednesday, injuring 23 others.
The Good Foundation Church came crashing down during stormy rains in evening hours, according to Nyagatare Mayor Claudian Mushabe.
The deceased, an elderly man and a woman, were identified as Augustine Rusirasi, 73, and Oliva Murungi, 33.
The heavy rain, characterised by violent winds, also destroyed 38 homes in the same neighborhood, he added.
The Director General of Nyagatare District Hospital, Major Ernest Munyemana, confiremed to The New Times Thursday that they had received 23 victims but have since referred four more serious cases to Rwanda Military Hospital, Kanombe, in Kigali.
All of the four who were transferred to the capital are women, he said.
“Some had multiple or polytrauma injuries including open fracture, nasal and eye bleeding (head injuries),” he said.
He noted that the Nyagatare hospital have since discharged one woman, while 18 others are still receiving treatment at the hospital.
Mayor Mushabe said the church pastor, Innocent Kayiranga, is among those who sustained minor injuries and is among those being treated at the district hospital.
He pointed out that heavy rain in the area started last week following a prolonged dry spell.
The church was among hundreds of religious establishments countrywide that had been instructed to make upgrades on their structure but it had been allowed to continue with operations after meeting requirements, Mushabe told The New Times.
“The walls were built in bricks and an assessment had given them the green light,” he said.
Asked about measures to prevent recurrence of such tragedies in the future, the mayor said “we have formed a team to inspect whether the churches that were reopened really meet the minimum requirements as per the checklist.”
“Second, tomorrow (Friday) morning, we will have a meeting with clerics to discuss new measures to protect people,” he said.
The families whose houses were destroyed are being accommodated by neighbours, as the district seeks means to rehabilitate their homes, the mayor said.