At least 12 people were killed Saturday in floods caused by heavy rains in Bundibugyo district in western Uganda, local Red Cross officials said.
« We recovered 12 bodies in the water and one person was rushed to hospital after being seriously injured, » Diana Tumuhimbise, head of the Red Cross in Bundibugyo, told AFP by telephone.
« The rain started last night (Friday) and continued until 9am this morning, » she added. « Several houses were washed away, roads were blocked and some completely submerged ».
The Red Cross, the police, the army and residents have jointly launched relief operations in several sub-counties. It is too early to know how many people are missing, according to the authorities.
Heavy weather impedes communications in this isolated district, located on the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and separated from the rest of Uganda by the Rwenzori Mountains.
At least 20 people were killed by floods and mudslides this week in Uganda, according to reports from the Red Cross and the government.
East Africa and part of Central Africa have been affected for several weeks by torrential rains.
Floods are a regular phenomenon in the region, but their scale this year can be explained, according to scientists, by a climate phenomenon centered on the Indian Ocean.
This phenomenon, dubbed « Indian Ocean dipole », is related to the difference in temperature at the sea surface between the east and west zones of the ocean.
Currently, the waters bordering East Africa are warmer than usual at this time of the year, which causes increased evaporation, the humid air flowing to the mainland thus becoming rains .
Scientists say they have not observed a dipole of such intensity for years, even decades.