Torrential rains lash Burundi

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iol pic afr burundi floods- AFP This photograph, released by the World Food Programme, shows a displaced Burundian boy standing outside houses that were ruined by floods at Gatumba, near Bujumbura. Picture: WFP

Bujumbura - Torrential rains and landslides have left at least 77 people dead and about 12 000 displaced in Burundi, the Burundi Red Cross said on Tuesday.

Heavy rains on Sunday caused flooding in northern areas of the country, outside the capital, Bujumbura. About 1 000 houses were destroyed and 84 people injured, said Alexis Manirakiza, spokesman for the Burundi Red Cross.

In one hospital, where the bodies of 37 children and four men were wrapped up to their necks in multi-coloured sheets, Reuters TV images showed people walking around an open room trying to identify friends and relatives who are still missing.

“Until now, we have already numbered 77 deaths, the majority being children and women,” Manirakiza said. “We also have over 12 000 victims whose homes were destroyed by the rain. The fact is that the toll continues to rise.”

The government declared a two-day period of national mourning starting on Tuesday for to victims.

Burundi's president, Pierre Nkurunziza, attended the burial of dozens of victims on Monday. He called for national and international solidarity to assist the affected families.

A local meteorological office warned heavy rain will fall until the end of February. - Reuters

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