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Earthquakes strike in Rwanda, Congo

39 reported dead; about 400 injured

People stood amid rubble at the central market in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo, yesterday after earthquakes shook the African Great Lakes region. People stood amid rubble at the central market in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo, yesterday after earthquakes shook the African Great Lakes region. (Lionel Healing/AFP/Getty Images)
Email|Print| Text size + By Thomas Rippe
Associated Press / February 4, 2008

KIGALI, Rwanda - Two earthquakes struck hours apart yesterday in Rwanda and neighboring Congo, killing at least 39 people including some who were in a church that collapsed, officials said.

Nearly 400 people were injured.

A magnitude-6.0 quake struck Congo early, according to the US Geological Survey. The second quake, which registered 5.0, hit a few hours later near the countries' border in Rwanda's rural Rusizi District.

"I was at home when the earthquake hit and the next thing I heard, was the house falling down," said Florence Nyiranzoga, who was airlifted to the Rwandan capital, Kigali, for treatment of her injuries.

Another victim, who was also airlifted to Kigali, said the death toll was sure to rise.

"I am sure very many people are going to die," she said, adding that the hospital near the quake's center was full and that "people were scattered in the hospital compound."

In Rwanda, 34 people were killed and 231 wounded, according to a Ministry of Health hotline. Frank Mugambage, an official in the president's office, said several were killed when their church collapsed. Rescuers were searching for more victims.

The Rwanda temblor rattled Kigali, some 125 miles away from the Rusizi District.

Across the border in the lakeside city of Bukavu, Mayor Raisi Kunda said five people were killed and 149 injured. Kunda said many homes as well as schools and churches were damaged, but the extent was not immediately clear.

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