Torrential rains kill at least 50 in Burundi, toll seen rising

Reuters News
Posted: Feb 10, 2014 8:43 AM

BUJUMBURA (Reuters) - At least 50 people in Burundi have died due to torrential rains and landslides, officials in the central African country said on Monday, and they warned the death toll is likely to rise.

The rains, which started on Sunday night and caused flooding in northern areas outside the capital Bujumbura, also injured scores of people. Witnesses said huge boulders tumbling down hills in the middle of the night destroyed entire houses.

"We have already numbered 50 bodies that are in the mortuary, but we fear the death toll could be higher," Public Security Minister Gabriel Nizigama told reporters.

The Burundi Red Cross said the number of dead had climbed to 67.

"The injured are receiving treatment in different public hospitals free of charge, the government has also agreed to take over the burial of the victims," Nizigama said.

He said the government would need help from its international partners to assist the affected families.

Local people said the floods were a disaster for stricken communities as many people had been left destitute.

"It is the first time I see such a rain in my life," said Veronique, a 45-year old woman who did not provide her family name but said one of her five children had died in the floods.

"The strength of the rain swept me from the house up to a distance of 50 meters."

(Reporting by Patrick Nduwimana; Editing by Drazen Jorgic and Mark Heinrich)