Thursday, February 07, 2008

From the Sydney Morning Herald
February 4, 2008 - 6:31AM

Earthquakes struck Rwanda and neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo on Sunday, killing at least 30 people and seriously injuring 350 more, officials said. The two quakes were in Africa's Great Lakes region along the western Great Rift Valley fault.

The first quake, with a magnitude of 6.0 and its epicentre in Democratic Republic of Congo, occurred at 10:30am (1830 AEDT) and was followed by another 5.0 quake in densely populated southern Rwanda at 1:56pm (2156 AEDT).

"The death toll has now increased to 25 from the earthquake. Two hundred have serious injuries," Deputy Rwandan Police Chief Mary Gahonzire said. "Rescue efforts are underway but the number of dead could rise, as so many people are trapped."

The acting governor of Congo's South Kivu province, Bernard Watunakanza, told Reuters by telephone from the eastern town of Bukavu that aftershocks were happening "every 20 or 30 minutes". "Up to now there are five dead and 149 seriously injured. Many people are traumatised," he said.

An official from Congo's UN peacekeeping mission, known as MONUC, said buildings had been destroyed in Bukavu. "There is lots of damage. Many buildings have been hit. Lots of houses have completely collapsed," said Jacqueline Chenard, MONUC spokeswoman in Bukavu.

Earthquakes are common in the western Great Rift Valley - a seismically active fault line straddling western Uganda, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and neighbouring Tanzania.

In 1994, a magnitude 6 tremor in the foothills of western Uganda's Rwenzori mountains killed at least six people. In 1966, a magnitude 7 earthquake killed 157 people and injured more than 1,300 in the Semliki Valley, also in western Uganda.


No comments: