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KIGALI: Rwanda on Saturday said it had set aside nearly $100 million to repair damaged infrastructure following powerful floods and landslides this week that claimed 131 lives and destroyed thousands of homes.

More than 9,000 people were left homeless after rivers of mud swept through villages and cut off roads following heavy rain in several parts of the hilly and impoverished East African nation.

One of those injured in the disaster succumbed to injuries in hospital yesterday taking the toll to 131 dead, said Marie-Solange Kayisire, the Minister for Emergency Management.

“We are still looking for one person who is still missing,“ she told reporters in Kigali.

Some 50 schools were destroyed along with critical infrastructure including roads, bridges, water stations and electricity grids in one of the worst such natural disasters in years in Rwanda.

“Over 9,000 people were made homeless as a result of this disaster,“ she added.

Jean Claude Musabyimana, Minister of Local Government, said those remaining in disaster-prone areas should vacate their homes and seek assistance from authorities.

“We have put in place emergency response teams to provide necessities such as food and bedding,“ he said. “No one should be staying in disaster-prone areas at the moment.”

Infrastructure Minister Ernest Nsabimana said 110 billion Rwandan francs ($98.5 million) had been set aside “to ensure that the new infrastructure is strong enough to withstand disasters such as floods and landslides”.

“Work has already begun,“ he said.

East Africa often suffers from wild weather during the rainy seasons.

In May 2020, at least 65 people died in Rwanda as heavy rains pounded the region while more than 200 people died in floods and landslides in the first four months of 2018.

This week more than 170 people died after heavy rains and flooding in eastern DR Congo.

Experts say extreme weather events are happening with increased frequency and intensity due to climate change.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Saturday offered his condolences to the victims of the “catastrophic floods” in Rwanda and DRC.

“This is yet another illustration of accelerating climate change and its disastrous impact on countries that have done nothing to contribute to global warming,“ he said during a visit to Burundi. - AFP