Lightning kills four

At least four people died while five others sustained serious injuries after they were struck by lightning during a heavy downpour on Sunday evening.

At least four people died while five others sustained serious injuries after they were struck by lightning during a heavy downpour on Sunday evening.

The Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs indicates that Gatsibo District in the Eastern Province was the worst hit, after three people died while another person sustained serious injuries in Kabarole Sector.

A fourth person succumbed to lightening in Kitabi Sector in Nyamagabe District, Southern Province, while, in the neighbouring Huye District, lightning injured three people who were in a market in Gishamvu Sector.

Earlier in the week, lightning killed two people and injured another – all members of the same family – in Nyagatare District, Eastern Province.

Meanwhile, the Sunday downpour destroyed nine classrooms at Groupe Scolaire Shaki in the rural Nyabinoni Sector, Muhanga District in the Southern Province.

Five classrooms had roofs blown off while four classrooms were partly damaged, according to Adolphe Basengimana, the head teacher.

The teachers’ residential quarters were also left roofless, he added.

“I don’t think the classrooms were poorly constructed, but rather the winds were very strong and violent,” Basengimana said. “It is the first time that we have experienced such heavy winds.”

Some of the affected classrooms at the 12-Year Basic Education Programme (12YBE) school had been completed recently.

A Senior Five schoolgirl was slightly hurt during the hailstorm as she revised from one of the classrooms. She was admitted briefly and is currently recovering from her home, officials said.

Normally, schools under the 12YBE programme are day schools and when the incident occurred, students were home, having been a Sunday. 

Both the primary and secondary sections of the school were affected, Basengimana said. 

But despite the infrastructure breakdown, studies continued on Monday albeit in overcrowded classrooms.

Muhanga mayor Yvonne Mutakwasuku told The New Times that a team had been dispatched to evaluate the extent of the damage and recommend possible action.  

She said the district will intervene to support the school but noted that the first step was “to assess the damage, conduct a needs assessment and see what can be done”.

GS Shaki has 265 students in its secondary section and 777 pupils.

Meanwhile, sources in Nyabinoni Sector said the Sunday rain also destroyed crops, mainly banana plantations and other properties.  By press time, the extent of the destruction was still unclear.

Several residential houses were also left roofless. On Monday, residents could be seen on top of houses trying to repair damages caused by the rains.

The rains came barely ten days after a heavy downpour destroyed close to 10 hectares of banana plantation and several houses in Rwamagana District – on August 15.

The Meteorology department has predicted that the country could experience unusually prolonged rains in the coming months.

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