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Flooding rains in Uganda claim at least 24 lives

By Alyssa Smithmyer, AccuWeather, Accuweather.com
Flooding rains in Uganda claim at least 24 lives
The flooding ruined roadways and bridges, submerged houses and damaged crops in Uganda. Photo courtesy of Ugandan Prime Minister Nabbanja Robinah/Twitter

Devastating rainfall that drenched eastern Uganda last weekend has killed at least 24 victims across the Elgon subregion as of Wednesday, according to government officials.

Heavy rain began across eastern Uganda after 8 p.m. Saturday and continued through 7 a.m. Sunday. The destructive flooding impacted numerous villages, including Namabasa, Busajabwankuba, Nkoma and the Mbale industrial park.

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Scenes of ruined roadways and bridges, submerged homes and crops washed away were common across the region after the flooding event. As the heavy rain subsided, runoff water continued to wreak havoc on farmland earlier this week, raising the acres of agricultural damage to 5,000.

On Sunday, the president of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, sent Prime Mister Robinah Nabbanja to the affected regions to assess the damage and determine what immediate intervention was necessary.

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In a statement released from the prime minister's office, property damage is estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands of U.S. dollars.

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Irene Nakasiita, a spokesperson with the Uganda Red Cross Society, told CNN on Wednesday that 21 victims have been retrieved from Mbale, and three were found in Kapchorwa. Many fear additional victims will be discovered in the coming days, with numerous residents still missing.

Kapchorwa and Mbale were among some of the larger population centers impacted by the flooding rains. The banks of the Nabuyonga and Namatala rivers reportedly burst on Sunday, worsening the amount of destruction.

Engineer Hilary Onek, the minister of relief, disaster preparedness and refugees, announced at a press conference on Tuesday that 14 bridges were swept away, in addition to nine cars and three motorcycles.

Disaster surveys found that at least 800 households, three health centers and nine schools were either partially damaged or destroyed due to the flooding. The URCS said thousands of people were displaced by the heavy rains, and over 1,000 households were impacted in surrounding districts.

Extensive livestock and domestic animal losses also were reported.

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A rapid assessment team mobilized by the Office of the Prime Minister combined forces with local police, military, URCS and health workers to conduct search-and-rescue operations and provide medical response across the region. The Ugandan government announced that they would provide tents for those who lost their homes until permanent measures can be achieved.

Rescue and cleanup efforts have been hindered by additional rainfall on Monday and Tuesday as periods of lighter rain and showers spread across the region. AccuWeather forecasters say that light precipitation is in store throughout the remainder of the week across eastern Uganda.

"There can be isolated showers and thunderstorms around on Thursday and Friday, but rainfall looks to be light," explained AccuWeather lead international forecaster Jason Nicholls.

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Although the majority of the country is in the grips of a prolonged drought, the Elgon region of eastern Uganda is prone to flash flooding and landslides when periods of heavy rain fall. Positioned at the base of Mount Elgon, an extinct shield volcano bordering western Kenya, enhanced precipitation can occur on the windward side of the mountain in Uganda.

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