More than 100 people have died after floods and landslides hit Rwanda’s northern and western province, authorities say.
“Many houses collapsed on people,” said western province governor François Habitegeko.
He added that main roads in the area “are not usable because of landslides”.
Rwanda’s public broadcaster RBA reports that the casualty numbers are expected to increase as floodwaters continue to rise.
The government’s main priority now is to “reach every house that has been damaged to ensure we can rescue any person who may be trapped”, the Reuters news agency quotes Mr Habitegeko as saying.
Relief efforts have already started, “including helping to bury victims of the disaster and providing supplies to those whose homes were destroyed,” a government minister for emergencies, Marie Solange Kayisire, told the AFP news agency.
The heavy rains pounded Rwanda “all night” and more downpours are expected throughout the month, authorities say.
Heavy rains and consequent damage and casualties between March and May are commonplace in Rwanda, but the deluge on Tuesday night was unusually strong.
his is the worst flooding Rwanda has seen since May 2020 when around 80 people died.
Deaths have also been reported in neighbouring Uganda, where six people have died after landslides, the Ugandan Red Cross says.
Rwanda’s weather authority is linking the unusual rains seen in recent years to climate change.
Many factors contribute to flooding, but a warming atmosphere caused by climate change makes extreme rainfall more likely.
The world has already warmed by about 1.2C since the industrial era began and temperatures will keep rising unless governments around the world make steep cuts to emissions.