Almost 100 people were feared trapped after a four-storey building that was under construction collapsed in northeastern Rwanda, the government said.

The building, on a roadside in the town of Nyagatare, some 100km northeast of the capital Kigali, collapsed on Tuesday afternoon.

"So far, the tentative information we have indicates that debris fell on about 100 people, we are yet to come up with the exact figures," Seraphine Mukantabana, Rwandan minister of disaster management  told AFP news agency.

Theos Badege, the police spokesman, said that three people were confirmed dead and 21 people had been taken to hospital.

"At approximately 3pm today, a four story building collapsed while under construction," a government statement said.

"Working with the Rwanda Defence Forces, the police have secured the site and are currently undertaking an intensive rescue operation. We are are unable to confirm details as to the cause of the building’s collapse," it added.

Those trapped are believed to include both construction workers on the building as well as passersby on the street.

"At the moment we are working with the police on a quick response," Mukantabana said.

"The building that collapsed was a four- storey located in Nyagatare district by the roadside, and that is why it affected many people."

Source: Agencies