Dozens dead, hundreds homeless after landslides in northern Rwanda

Landslides caused by heavy rains over the weekend have killed at least 49 people and left hundreds homeless in northern Rwanda, officials said Monday.

"We have counted 49 bodies," Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs Minister Seraphine Mukantabana told dpa. "We are still looking for missing people."

Most of the victims were children and the elderly, Mukantabana said.

About 26 people were rushed to hospital, while 442 houses were destroyed, according to government figures.

The landslides also blocked roads, including one in Gisenyi leading to neighbouring Congo.

The fatalities included 34 in Gakenke district, eight in Muhanga, four in Rubavu and three in Ngororero.

"The rains did not only destroy our houses, but the crops too. We don't know where we shall get food from," said Marie Louise Mwiza, a resident in Gakenke district.

"The government tells us to relocate, but we have nowhere to go, because these are our ancestral lands, and we have no means to buy alternative lands," she said.

Mukantabana pledged that "the government is doing everything possible to assist the victims of the landslides."

Officials blamed the unseasonal rains in Rawanda on El Nino, the periodic weather phenomenon that originates from unusually warm waters in the tropical Pacific, which disturb air pressure and wind conditions around the world.

Last update: Mon, 09/05/2016 - 18:56
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