Police in Bujumbura say death toll is highest in living memory from freak weather after 10-hour rainfall.
Gaston Sindimwo, the African nation’s vice president, said “torrential rains and strong winds struck several provinces last night. In the northwestern town of Mabayi, a landslide smothered several houses, and rescuers found five victims”.
Roads flooded in the capital Bujumbura and a soldier died when the heavy rain swept through Kinama neighbourhood during the night. Sindimwo said “it is a real disaster. Several other people were injured and we have so far counted 162 destroyed homes”.
The Carama, Buterere and Kinama districts of the capital were still flooded on Friday.
The Republic of Burundi is largely a high plateau and has two wet seasons, a short one from September to November and a long one, from February until May.
Bujumbura is on the shores of Lake Tanganyika and as such has a different climate. Bujumbura can expect approximately 100mm of rain in every month between November and April. Then, a rapid change to a dry summer lasts until October.
Because Burundi does not experience a lot of rain for a country within the tropics, any significant thunderstorm could drop more than a month’s worth of rain in a few hours – precisely what happened on Thursday night.