Rwanda: 16 people killed as lightening strike hits church

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At least 16 people have been killed and 140 others injured when lightning struck a church on Saturday.

Officials say most of the victims died instantly as lightning struck a Seventh-Day Adventist church in the southern district of Nyaruguru. According to local mayor Habitegeko Francois, three of those injured in the lightning strike remain in critical condition but doctors say they are recovering.

Lightning strike kills churchgoers

Lightning strikes are frequent across Rwanda with a number of human and livestock deaths recorded each year. In 2016, lightning killed 30 people and injured 61 others while killing 48 livestock across the country. Rwanda’s landscape provides ideal conditions for the formation of thunderstorms and Saturday’s strike occurred in the Southern region near the border with Burundi.

The Seventh-Day Adventist church in the town of Gihemvu was struck on Saturday at around midday when parishioners were attending a service. Seventh-Day Adventist churches hold their services on Saturdays, the seventh day of the week according to Christian and Jewish calendars where the week begins on Sunday.

Of those injured in the lightning strike, 17 remain in hospital while the rest have been discharged.

The deadly strike comes less than two weeks after more than 700 churches in Rwanda were closed down for failing to comply with building regulations and noise pollution complaints.

On Friday, a group of 18 students were also struck by lightning in the same area, one of whom was killed. Three of the other students remain in hospital while the rest have been able to return home.

Featured image: Public domain

About Aaron Brooks

Aaron Brooks is a UK journalist who wants to cut out the international agendas in news. Spending his early years in both England and Northern Ireland he saw the difference between reality and media coverage at an early age. After graduating from the University of Chester with a BA in journalism, his travels revealed just how large the gap between news and the real world can be. As Editor-in-Chief at East Africa Monitor, it’s his job to provide a balanced view of what’s going on in the region for English-speaking audiences.