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10 May, 2023 12:20

Death toll from Congo flood passes 400

More than 5,500 people remain unaccounted for as rescue efforts continue
Death toll from Congo flood passes 400

At least 410 people have been confirmed dead and more than 5,000 others remain unaccounted for after flooding and a landslide struck the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s South Kivu province last week, the Associated Press reported on Wednesday.

The floods, which began as torrential rain through May 4 and 5, reportedly swept through the riverside villages of Nyamukubi and Bushushu, wiping out buildings along with fields of crops and livestock, leaving thousands of people homeless.

Ulrich Crepin Namfeibona, the emergency coordinator for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in South Kivu, described the situation as “dire” and said that some areas have become unrecognizable.

In Nyamukubi, almost half of the village was destroyed. Due to flood damage, the main road between Nyamukubi and Kalehe can no longer be used, hampering the arrival of humanitarian aid,” Namfeibona said.

Local authorities told the media on Tuesday that the death toll is still rising as efforts to rescue residents and recover bodies continue.

We’re not able to deal with this many bodies as urgently as needed. We’re searching for bodies using spades or by hand,” John Kashinzwe Kibekenge, spokesperson for the Red Cross in South Kivu province, told Reuters.

According to AFP, the government has delivered coffins to the affected communities after reports suggested many of the dead had been buried in mass graves.

These coffins arrived late. We would have liked for them to arrive in time; it was important because we have already buried people like pigs, putting three, five, ten, 40 people in the same hole,” Roger Nabusike, a resident of Nyamukubi, was cited by AFP as saying.

MSF said it will “continue to monitor the situation in the coming days to assess medical and humanitarian needs,” raising concerns about disease outbreaks in the cholera-affected region. “Shelter, food and other basic items are urgently needed for these communities who have lost everything,” it added.