‘Disaster’ Congo flood kills over 400 people


The death toll from last week’s deadly floods and landslides in the Democratic Republic of the Congo rose to more than 400, the government said on Monday, as rescue workers and family members searched in rubble and mud for victims and survivors of the disaster.

The flooding began on Thursday, as heavy rains overflowed rivers, causing water and mud to flood villages, wash away homes and destroy farms.

“The situation is dire,” said Remi Kasindi, a representative of a civil society group in South Kivu, where the floods occurred. “This is a humanitarian crisis that troubles our conscience.”

Mr Kasindi said survivors were searching for family members in the mud, and some bodies had been retrieved from near Lake Kivu.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said about 3,000 families were left homeless, their homes damaged or destroyed by the floods and landslides. The office said 1,200 homes were completely destroyed. National mourning was observed on Monday for the flood victims in Congo.

Rescuers said that before the flood, people in the area had traveled to the area to sell their agricultural products in the market there, making it difficult to calculate the total number of missing. Bodies were being pulled out of the debris on Monday as well.

Several news media outlets reported that authorities had to bury the bodies in mass graves.

Dr. Denis Mukwege, the Congolese winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018, took to Twitter to plead for the dead to be treated with dignity.

“Take out the bodies, identify them by DNA, bury them individually and not in mass graves,” he wrote,

The floods affected the Kalehe region in South Kivu, and particularly the villages of Bushushu and Nyamukubi. The flood-hit area had welcomed thousands of displaced people from Nord-Kivu province, which has been plagued by fighting between the Congolese army and rebel forces.

While the dry season is fast approaching for the region, more rainfall is expected over the next 10 days, some of which may be above normal. Any rainfall, above average or not, that falls on already saturated ground can increase the risk of flooding because the land and rivers are already full of water and the rain has nowhere to go. The area is also hilly, which increases the risk of landslides.

The village is on the banks of Lake Kivu, which separates the Congo from Rwanda. Last week, Over 120 people were killed in the devastating floods and landslides due to heavy rains in western rwanda

On Saturday, during a visit to Burundi, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the floods were “another example of accelerating climate change and its devastating impact on countries that have done nothing to contribute to global warming.”

Experts have said that a comprehensive analysis is needed to link specific events to climate change, which has made extreme rainfall more frequent and intense.

Last year, more than 140 people had died due to floods and landslides. Congo’s capital KinshasaAnd Central Africa as a region has recently been plagued by deadly floods.

Local and international charities have provided aid to the area, trying to bring food or health aid to prevent the spread of waterborne disease. The United Nations stated that cholera is endemic in the region.

Doctors Without Borders strengthened its presence to help the wounded, and the Red Cross was deployed to help with the search for bodies and the organization of funerals.

Kudra Maliro and Judson Jones contributed reporting.

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