24 February 2013

Rwanda: Deluge (picture Gallery)

Three adults confirmed dead, child still missing after car swept in Nyabugogo river

Two die when house collapses in Gitega

Saturday night, between 5pm and 8pm, an exceptional downpour pounded Kigali city, resulting in loss of lives and property, especially in Kimisaga, Cyahafi, Nyabugogo and Gatsata.

Roads, bridges, and other infrastructure were also damaged.

When The Rwanda Focus visited some of the affected places, car swept away were still in seen floating Nyabugogo river. One of the cars, a small sedan, had on board two women, a man driving and a kid. It was caught in floodwaters near Nyabugogo Bridge, at a place known as "Ku mashyirahamwe". All four people on board died in the accident.

"When the rain suddenly started we took shelter," said Gilbert Mugwaneza, a passerby who saw the incident. "Floods were overflowing the bridge, so we were warning cars not to cross. At first, the sedan stopped, but then a truck and two jeeps passed it and crossed the bridge. So the driver of the sedan apparently thought he too could make it, but halfway across the bridge it was seized by the currents and thrown in the river."

Police officers in collaboration with locals managed to recover the bodies of the three adults, but the child was still missing on Sunday morning.

Many parked cars were also damaged in the area.

Hundreds left homeless

According to Bruno Rangira, the director of communication in the Kigali City Council, many families across Kigali were left homeless. 163 houses in Gasabo (with 85 in Gisozi sector and 38 in Gatsata), 31 in Nyarugenge, and 81 in Kicukiro were destroyed. Fences and roofs were also demolished by the violent wind.

"So far, we can confirm that 5 people died, with the three bodies recovered from the car at Nyabugogo and two others in Gitega sector whose house crumbled when they were sleeping," Rangira said. Four people were also confirmed seriously injured.

Habimana Frodouard has been living in Gitega since 1962. "When the downpour occurred, I was in bar. Then someone came to tell me that my house had been damaged by floods. I immediately went home, and found my house entirely carried away. All of my things were flooding and my neighbors were missing. We tried to search for them but didn't find the bodies," said Habimana.

Habimana told The Rwanda Focus that for all the time he has lived in Gitega, he has never seen something similar.

Frederic Ntawukuliryayo, the PR at the ministry of disaster management, told this paper on Sunday morning that the victims will receiving aid very soon. "We don't know yet the exact numbers of those who have been affected, but we will later today give basic necessities to those that we know of. We are still assessing the damage, and we'll soon know the exact numbers," he said during one of his inspections.

Angelique Mukarutabana, the executive secretary of Kabahizi cell in Gitega, said that the authorities are still looking for those who have been directly affected and those who are at high risk, to be relocated. "Who want to find them a safe place to live in."

The families affected in Gitega include those of Benjamin Hakizimana and Theogene Kalimunda who had a shop which was his lonely source of income. "When the flood came, it took away all the things in my shop, including Frw 250,000, the money from yesterday's sales," Kalimunda said.

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