Sixteen people who died after a church in southern Rwanda was hit by lightning have been laid to rest.
The victims, with the exception of one, were worshipping at Gihembe Seventh-day Adventist Church in Nyabimata Sector when the unfortunate incident happened, reports local media The New Times.
The other victim was killed from a farm in Ruheru Sector in the same district.
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Another 140 worshippers were injured and they were taken to nearby hospitals for treatment, upon which 17 were kept and the rest discharged. The deceased were buried on Sunday in Nyabimata cemetery.
Collette Kayitesi, the vice mayor for social affairs in Nyaruguru told The New Times that the district will bear the costs of treatment of the injured and the cost of the burial.
How the incident occurred
Emmanuel Ruremesha, a church elder who survived the incident said he was seated at the altar when the rain began around mid-day during the service.
“Normally, we finish at mid-day sharp but because of the visiting choir, we had extended the day’s programme so as to accord more time for the visiting choir. By the time it started raining we had just welcomed the preacher to the pulpit.
“Suddenly, there was a big bang, I saw a thunderbolt strike worshippers. We all fell down for minutes,” Ruremesha told The New Times. He said district authorities and ambulances were called in to come to their rescue.
Rwanda has over the years been experiencing lightning strikes, with the latest occurring last October, killing about 18 people.
In 2016, lightning killed about 30 people and injured 61, the country’s ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs stated.
Moving forward, Alphonse Hishamunda, the acting Director of Risk Reduction and Preparedness Unit at the Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugees (MIDMAR) said his outfit has through various platforms begun a campaign to alert Rwandans about lightning.