More than 130 individuals died in Rwanda and parts of Uganda as a result of devastating floods and landslides that swept the region. Heavy rainfall beginning on May 2 and continuing through May 4 and later that week were the cause. Around 129 died in Rwanda, while six passed away in the neighboring country of Uganda, and the number of deceased continues to rise. Additionally, 77 individuals were injured, and five are still missing.
Many witnesses attribute the high death toll to the fact that the disasters occurred during the night — when many were sleeping and unable to evacuate. According to the Rwandan newspaper New Times, “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 conversion of the Western and Northern provinces in Rwanda to agricultural and settlement areas increased the risk of flooding, according to Joseph Tuyishimire, a geography researcher at the University of Rwanda. He added that if citizens do not relocate or if people
do not resolve the issue with the land, then the risk of flooding will continue to increase. Mouhamadou Bamba Sylla, a Rwandan climate change scientist, asserted that climate change also increased the rate and intensity of heavy rains.
Additionally, human-led climate change made it 80 times more likely that torrential rains would lead to deadly floods in West Africa. Searches for victims continued for multiple days as individuals remained trapped in their houses or stuck in ruins. Houses collapsed on many families, and landslides made roads unusable and unstable. Additionally, the weather disasters destroyed 17 roads, 26 bridges, 1 hospital, 2 health posts, and 5 health centers. In total, the landslides destroyed approximately 5,100 properties and partially damaged another 2,500. This flood is the worst Rwanda has experienced since May 2020, when around 80 individuals passed away.
Rwandan President Paul Kagame announced, “My deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims of the landslides and floods that occurred last night. We are doing everything within our means to address this difficult situation.” He added that emergency responders were evacuating people in “affected and high-risk areas.” In addition, the government worked to assist citizens by sending relief assistance, food, hygienic kits, bedding, and kitchen utensils to the most affected Western province districts of Ngororero, Rubavu, and Rutsiro, Nyabihu. Additional relief efforts include helping to bury victims and providing supplies to aid destroyed homes.
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