Rwanda: Floods and torrential rain kill at least 129 people as rescue missions ongoing

Flooding in Rwanda has left hundreds of people stranded as well as widespread damage and destruction across parts of the country

At least 129 people have died in Rwanda after torrential rainfall caused powerful floods.

Rescue missions are ongoing on Wednesday and the death toll “continues to rise,” the Rwanda Broadcasting Agency said.

The deluge of rain mostly impacted the west and north of the country.

“This could be the highest disaster-induced death toll to be recorded in the country in the shortest period, according to available records from recent years,” the New Times newspaper reported.

A Rwandan government representative, says it "is doing everything possible" to help those impacted by the flood

Francois Habitegeko, governor of Rwanda’s Western province, told reporters a search for more victims was underway following heavy rain on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.

Heavy rainstorms started last week, causing flooding and mudslides that swept away several houses across the country and left some roads inaccessible.

The Rwanda Meteorology Agency has warned that more rain is coming.

The government has in the past asked residents living in wetlands and other dangerous areas to relocate.

People gather next to a collapsed building after flooding in Nyabihu district in western Rwanda on Wednesday, May 3, 2023. Credit: AP

The President of Rwanda Paul Kagame tweeted in tribute: "My deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims of the landslides and floods that occurred last night in the Western, Northern and Southern Provinces.

"We are doing everything within our means to address this difficult situation. I am personally following up the response closely."

The western and northern provinces and Kigali, the capital, are particularly hilly, making them vulnerable to landslides during the long rainy season - from March to May.

Between January to April 20, 60 people were killed in extreme weather disasters, according to a report by the Rwandan government's Ministry of Emergency Management.

It also reported more than 1,205 houses were destroyed and 2,000 hectares (around 5,000 acres) of land across Rwanda was damaged.

Parts of East Africa, including the southwest of Uganda, are also seeing heavy rainfall.

At least three people drowned in floods last week after a river burst its banks in the remote Ugandan district of Rukungiri.

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