Dozens of people are missing and over 170 have lost their lives due to heavy rains and flooding in South Kivu province in eastern DR Congo.
Governor Theo Ngwabije stated that the floods washed away hundreds of homes in Kalehe region, which is located near the Rwandan border and west of Lake Kivu.
The incident occurred after Rwanda also experienced torrential downpours that killed dozens of individuals. Emergency efforts are ongoing to provide assistance to those affected by the disaster.
“We have about 176 people dead,” he said while visiting the affected area. “This toll is provisional. We also have about 100 people missing.”
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According to a provisional toll reported by Archimede Karhebwa, the assistant administrator of Kalehe, around 100 people have died due to heavy flooding in several villages in Kalehe, where rivers burst their banks.
Innocent Mupenda, a civil society figure, confirmed that a downpour resulted in the flooding that “carried away villager”, including his mother and 11 children who lost their lives.
Vital Muhini, an elected official, estimated the number of deaths to be around 150, while a member of the rescue team mentioned that the search is still going on.
The government has announced that a day of national mourning will be observed on Monday, and flags will be lowered to half-mast to honor the lost lives.
Karhebwa explained that the area had been previously studied, and people living by the river were asked to evacuate due to the four previous occasions when the rivers had burst their banks and caused disastrous flooding.
Deforestation and climate change were cited as contributing factors to the flooding problem. Karhebwa urged people of goodwill to sent urgent humanitarian aid and assistance to the affected regions.
Heavy downpours during rainy season in central Africa regularly leads to flooding and landslides, and experts have noted an increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events in Africa due to climate change. In neighboring Rwanda, at least 127 people died due to downpour earlier this week.
Last month, torrential downpour resulted in landslide that claimed the lives of around 20 people in North Kivu. The DR Congo is one of the poorest countries in the world and faces issues of corruption and conflict in its eastern region.