Sep. 12, 2016 (GIN) – A 5.7-magnitude earthquake struck northwest Tanzania over the weekend and was felt throughout the Great Lakes region, local authorities said on Sunday.
Tanzanian premier Kassim Majaliwa headed to the worst-hit city, Bukoba, to attend a ceremony at its stadium.
“This tragic event is unprecedented. We’ve never known this in our country,” he told mourners. “The government is with you. It will not abandon you.”
President John Magufuli, who is from the region, said he was “deeply saddened”.
A group of 15 boys at a secondary boarding school in Bukoba district are believed to be among the 16 dead and 253 injured, according to Salum Kijuu, governor of Kagera province where Bukoba is located.
More than 800 buildings have been destroyed, including 44 public ones, Kijuu told AFP.
The quake also caused the collapse of homes across the border in Uganda in the region near Lake Victoria.
In the Ugandan village of Minziro, residents described terrifying scenes of rocks crashing down nearby hillsides.
Earth tremors were reported over Twitter in western Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi.
“I am sure the government can’t reconstruct our houses but in the meantime it can aid us with construction materials for tents,” victim Masembe Remegio told the French news agency AFP.
Earthquakes are fairly common in the Great Lakes region but are almost always of low intensity.