Weekend downpour leaves 10 people dead

At least ten people have been confirmed killed in the weekend downpour that mostly hit six districts, according to the Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs (Midimar).
A motorist drives through a flooded street in downtown Kigali after the weekend downpour. (Timothy Kisambira)
A motorist drives through a flooded street in downtown Kigali after the weekend downpour. (Timothy Kisambira)

At least ten people have been confirmed killed in the weekend downpour that mostly hit six districts, according to the Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs (Midimar).

The heavy rain pounded much of the country on Saturday and Sunday, with experts recording the rate of 15 milimetres.

The head of disaster management at Midimar, Jean Baptiste Nsengiyumva, said six other people were injured while 30 homes were destroyed countrywide.

Three deaths occurred in Rwamagana, two each in Kayonza, Bugesera and Kamonyi, and one was recorded in Rutsiro District.

All the injuries occurred in Kayonza and Rwamagana, where nine cows were also killed.

“All the deceased were struck by lightning as they took shelter under trees and others at home,” Nsengiyumva told The New Times.

He warned people against seeking shelter under trees during rain.

Rutsiro vice mayor for social affairs, Jacqueline Nyirabagurinzira, said around 9pm on Saturday, lightning struck a family in Gihango Sector, killing one Jonas Ndererimana.

Two family members are recovering from the shock at the district hospital.

Heavy rains ahead

Rwandans have been told to brace for heavy rains as the season gets underway. This means fixing drainage facilities in compounds as well as roofings.

According to Nsengiyumva, the rains will be more vicious in March and April. Rwanda Meteorology Agency (RMA) warned of the same.

Louis Rwagaju, the mayor of Bugesera, said two men from Kamabuye Sector were struck dead by lightning on Saturday evening when they were sheltering under trees.

Antony Twahirwa, the head of weather forecast at RMA, said the viciousness of the weekend rain was due to the tropical cyclones that caused thunderstorms and strong winds.

“Tropical cyclones from south Madagascar make landfall, especially during the dry season. These winds from the sea create heavy-humid air in the atmosphere and that causes atmospheric instability, hence the thunderstorms and violent winds,” he said.

Twahirwa said the rains will not continue for long and that the rainy season had not yet started.

“This rain may continue for a few days but will not last, so people have to wait for the rainy season next month. We urge the public to follow forecasts for timely updates,” he said.

Latest statistics from Midimar indicate that disasters have killed 15 people and injured seven others, while 127 houses have been destroyed and 10 cows killed in the last one week.

Rwagaju said of the 15 houses whose roofings were blown off in Bugesera, some had been fixed by yesterday, while those that suffered serious damage would await for support from Midimar.

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