At least 49 people have been killed by landslides in the country's north following heavy rains on Saturday and Sunday, a government official said Monday.

Torrential rains in the area about 80 kilometers (50 miles) from the capital, Kigali, have also destroyed several homes, stranding many families, Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs Minister Seraphine Mukantabana told The Associated Press Monday.

She said most of the victims lived in the Gakenke district, where 34 deaths have been recorded, more than 500 homes completely destroyed, and scores have been hospitalized. Children and elderly people have been especially hit by the landslides. The other deaths were reported in Muhanga and Rubavu districts, she said.

Northern Rwanda is particularly hilly, making it vulnerable to landslides during the rainy season. The government has been encouraging some residents to relocate to safer areas.