Landslide kills child, destroys 500 houses in Burundi

BUJUMBURA. — A landslide last Friday evening killed one child, left nearly 2 500 people homeless after destroying 497 houses and completely damaged a hydro-power dam in Gitaza zone, Muhuta district in the province of Rumonge, southwest Burundi, a local administration official told Xinhua on Saturday by phone. 

“The worst affected village is Gabaniro. A four-year-old child died there and no house remains standing in that village. In total 497 houses were destroyed, leaving 2 485 people homeless during the landslide,” said Abdul Ntiranyibagira, the private secretary of the governor province of Rumonge, who added that those damages are still provisional. 

According to him, over 500 hectares of crop fields were also destroyed in the landslide in Gabaniro village and in the neighboring villages. 

“The mountain slid and descended down the river Kirasa, completely damaging the Kirasa hydropower dam that provides electricity to the town of Mutumba in the same district of Muhuta. The landslide also completely destroyed all premises that will host the new hydropower dam project of Kirasa Energy,” said Ntiranyibagira.

He indicated that the homeless people have been regrouped at the Gitaza Technical School. 

“For security reasons, we have told all people who resided in Gabaniro village and others nearly villages threatened by landslides to leave the area and temporarily stay at the Gitaza Technical School as we monitor the situation,” said Ntiranyibagira. 

He indicated that besides the village of Gabaniro, other 14 nearby villages are also threatened by landslides. 

The affected area is close to the National Road number Three (RN3) connecting Burundi’s commercial capital to Rumonge town, quite near the shores of Lake Tanganyika. 

Earlier this week, the Burundian government and the United Nations system in Burundi issued a joint statement whereby Burundian Interior Minister Martin Niteretse called fo international support to flood victims. 

“Between September 2023 and April 7, 2024, more than 200,000 people have been affected by the El Nino phenomenon including 20 000 people who have become homeless,”said Niteretse, adding that 40,000 hectares of crops were swept away. He said that Lake Tanganyika has been experiencing a spectacular rise of its water level in recent month due to the El Nino phenomenon. 

“To reduce the suffering of affected communities, we call on the international community to contribute for sustainable solutions to support the communities to avoid El Nino consequences and to respond to their current needs,” said Niteretse. — Xinhua.

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