People look at the damage after an earthquake in 2008, in Cyangugu, 250km south of the Rwandan capital Kigali. Picture: Lionel Healing

Kigali, Rwanda - A strong earthquake struck Rwanda and shook most of the capital Kigali on Friday morning.

The magnitude 5.6 earthquake hit Rwanda at 3.25am local time (01.25 GMT), the United States Geological Survey reported.

The epicentre of the earthquake was located 35 km north of Cyangugu city in western Rwanda, occurring at a shallow depth of 10 km.

This is the second strong earthquake ever felt in Rwanda within a period of seven years.

An earthquake damaged up to 45 schools and health centres in western Rwanda’s districts of Nyamasheke and Rusizi in February 2008. 27 000 children were evacuated from schools, while 37 people died and 646 others were injured.

According to experts, earthquakes are common in the western Great Rift Valley due to the presence of a seismically active fault line which straddles western Uganda, eastern the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Tanzania.

Xinhua