According to different reports, at least 16 people were killed in Rwanda and 140 others got injured after a lightning struck a Seventh Day Adventist church in the country’s southern area. This tragedy happened on Saturday.
A provincial governor named Rose Mureshyankwano said that the churchgoers were seriously injured and rushed to a nearby hospital, where two of these people remain in a serious condition.
She pointed out that while 17 of those injured are still in the hospital, the rest have already been discharged.
Apparently, a similar incident took place a day before when lightning struck a group of 18 students, killing one. As a matter of fact, lightning killed 18 people in different parts of Rwanda on last October.
Experts pointed out that lightning strikes are quite frequent across this nation, which has many hills and mountains. Believe it or not, the country’s police record a huge number of human and livestock deaths every single year.
According to the country’s Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs, lightning injured 61 people, killed 30 and killed 48 livestock back in 2016, which represents the most recent year with full figures.
Different reports detailed that hundreds of people were all gathered in the congregation for a service at the Gihemvu Seventh-day Adventist Church. This was an old one located in the southern district of Nyaruguru.
According to district’s disaster management officer Jacqueline Benhirwe, the church didn’t have a lightning rod, given the fact that it had no way to pay for one to be installed.
Apparently, that day was a very special occasion considering that a visiting choir was performing. Given this situation, the service lasted longer than usual.
A church elder who was at the altar named Emmanuel Ruremesha told Rwanda’s New Times that when the lightning bolt struck at the church, electrifying the congregation with a brutal force that knocked most people to the ground, everyone fell down “for minutes.”
Mayor Habitegeko Francois noted that eleven people were instantly killed when that happened. In addition, a nearby resident named Marceline Mukamana told the New Times that she heard the lightning strike, followed by the sound of a woman crying for help.
She explained that when she finally got to the church, she found everyone lying on the ground. Mukamana said that was a “terrifying” scene, and that she immediately called the authorities once she realized there were people injured.
According to provincial governor Rose Mureshyankwano, the injured congregants were immediately rushed to a hospital in order to be treated for their injuries.
She told the Associated Press that one of the congregants died on the way to the hospital while three others died soon after arriving.
Official statistics reveal that lightning strikes are extremely common in this hilly part of the country, particularly during the rainy season at this time of the year.
According to Benhirwe, while this is quite common, the truth is that these are usually isolated incidents, striking livestock or humans in different parts of Rwanda. In fact, she said that this is probably the first time so many people died all at once.
As reported by local news outlet PanorActu, more than 700 Rwandan churches were forced to close two weeks ago for not complying with building regulations.
Apparently, some of these churches reportedly lacked the proper rods designed to protect buildings from lightning strikes.
Local media also reported that another person identified as a 21-year-old woman was fatally struck by lightning during Saturday’s storm in another part of the Nyaruguru district.
Almost 1,000 local residents and provincial officials decided to gather yesterday to bury the congregants killed n the church lightning strike.
The president of the South Rwandan Field of the Seventh-day Adventist Church Abidan Ruhongeka attended the ceremony and offered his condolences to the families of the deceased.
Apparently, the Nyaruguru district will pay every single medical bill of those who were injured and are still receiving treatment.
In a Facebook post, president of the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church Ted N.C. Wilson wrote that members of the congregation worldwide offered their greatest sympathy to those who have lost loved ones in this “traumatic” event.
In addition, Wilson wrote that it was an unspeakable tragedy to have such a “strange” occurrence of lightning striking during a church service.