At least 40,000 refugees are now trying to fleeBurundi, fearing the Central African country's growing wave of genocide. The refugees, many of them Zairean expatriates, others members of the warring Hutu and Tutsi tribes, balanced mattresses, suitcases and sacks of food on their heads, crowding roads to see if the border reopens Saturday. Ethnic cleansing that has swept through Burundi in the past 18 months escalated last week when extremists on both sides killed hundreds of people in a purge. But TIME State Department correspondent Sandra Burton reports that U.S. officials do not yet believe the pogroms will reach last year's epic level of violence in neighboring Rwanda, where Hutu death squads slaughtered half a million Tutsis. "Whereas Rwanda had a government and military that were both Hutu and were going after the Tutsi minority, Burundi has more of a balance of power," Burton says. "Everybody's hoping they can they stave this off."