World Bulletin / News Desk
The death toll from severe flooding caused by heavy rains that devastated several suburbs of Burundian capital Bujumbura has reached 67, according to the police commissioner.
"Sixty-seven persons died, including 50 in the capital," Edouard Nibigira, head of the civilian protection police, told a Tuesday press conference.
He added that 17 others had died in the Benga and Kibuye areas of the Bujumbura province, located in the hills overlooking the capital.
"Around 182 people were wounded [and] 84 were admitted to Roi Khaled hospital [in the capital], but others went home yesterday," Nibigira said.
On Sunday, flooding in three rivers in Bujumbura's northern suburbs swept away homes and other infrastructure on the riverbanks.
"This morning, our rescue teams were looking for victims under home rubble, but at the end of the day the operation will be completed," Burundi Red Cross Secretary-General Anselme Katiyunguruza told reporters.
"Nearly 1,000 homes were destroyed, leaving some 12,500 people homeless," he added.
The government has declared two days of national mourning starting on Tuesday.
Bujumbura is accustomed to seasonal flooding, but it was the first time for heavy rainfall to leave the entire country in a state of bereavement.
Relief assistance to flood victims has been slow, with many forced to seek shelter with friends or relatives.
"My neighbor sheltered me for the night, but he had nothing either," Thierry Bigirimana, who survived the flooding but had nothing left from his home, told Anadolu Agency.
He urged the government and charity organizations to provide assistance in the form of food and clothing.
Albert Nkundwanabose, a community leader in one of the affected localities, said local authorities were preparing a list of affected families to be submitted to the National Solidarity Ministry.
"Our urgent action was to look for the dead and evacuate the wounded to hospital," he told AA. "But now we're busy identifying all the affected families so that they can get assistance."
Katiyunguruza, the Red Cross chief, said they were ready to supply 250 families with tents and 200 others with kitchen utensils.
"We will also start distributing hygiene kits to prevent transmittable diseases," he added.
People, he said, were in dire need of temporary shelter, clothing and medicine.
"This is the time to show our solidarity," he asserted.
Various civil society organizations have appealed to the government to come up with a viable contingency plan to prevent similar disasters in the future.Last Mod: 12 Şubat 2014, 11:16