Tragic Landslide in Southwest Burundi: 497 Houses Destroyed, Hydropower Dam Damaged

In a devastating landslide Friday evening in Gitaza zone, Muhuta district, southwest Burundi, tragedy struck as one child lost their life and nearly 2,500 people were left homeless. The catastrophe ravaged 497 houses and obliterated a crucial hydropower dam, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake.

Abdul Ntiranyibagira, the private secretary of the governor province of Rumonge, revealed the grim aftermath of the disaster. “The worst affected village is Gabaniro, where a four-year-old child tragically perished, and not a single house remains standing,” he lamented.

The landslide, which wreaked havoc on Gabaniro village and neighboring areas, also laid waste to over 500 hectares of crop fields, compounding the region’s woes.

Ntiranyibagira further disclosed the harrowing extent of the catastrophe. “The mountain slid and engulfed the Kirasa hydropower dam, crippling the electricity supply to Mutumba town. Additionally, it demolished the infrastructure earmarked for the new hydropower dam project of Kirasa Energy,” he explained.

With thousands left homeless, emergency measures have been enacted. “For safety, we’ve relocated the displaced populace to the Gitaza Technical School while we monitor the situation,” Ntiranyibagira assured.

Tragically, the disaster isn’t contained to Gabaniro village alone. “Fourteen nearby villages also face imminent danger from landslides,” Ntiranyibagira added, highlighting the urgent need for assistance.

The affected area, situated near National Road number Three (RN3), underscores the gravity of the situation, with Rumonge town and Lake Tanganyika in close proximity.

This catastrophe compounds the challenges faced by Burundi in recent months. Interior Minister Martin Niteretse’s plea for international aid underscores the gravity of the situation. “Between September 2023 and April 7, 2024, over 200,000 people have been affected by the El Nino phenomenon, with 20,000 rendered homeless,” Niteretse stated, emphasizing the urgent need for support.

As Lake Tanganyika continues to swell due to the El Nino phenomenon, the call for international assistance grows more pressing. “To mitigate the suffering of affected communities, we urge the international community to lend support for sustainable solutions to address the aftermath of El Nino and meet the immediate needs of the affected population,” Niteretse implored.

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