Update: Death Toll From Congo Floods Reaches 401-Governor Confirms

Update: Death Toll From Congo Floods Reaches 401-Governor Confirms

The death toll from flooding that hit two villages in the east Democratic Republic of Congo last week has risen to 401, provincial governor Theo Ngwabidje Kasi said on Monday.

Torrential rain in Kalehe territory in South Kivu province caused rivers to overflow on Thursday, inundating the villages of Bushushu and Nyamukubi

At least 176 people were reported dead on Friday and many more were missing as humanitarian workers recovered scores of bodies.

Kasi told Reuters by message on Monday that the death toll now stood at 401. He did not provide any other details.

The central government has sent a delegation to Kalehe and declared Monday a day of national mourning.

“It is the worst flood we have ever had,” civil society representative Christian Zihindula Bazibuhe said, adding that bodies were still floating on Lake Kivu.

The central government in Kinshasa has not yet communicated a death toll. It has sent a delegation to Kalehe and declared Monday a day of national mourning.

The United Nations’ humanitarian agency OCHA said on Sunday that at least 270 deaths had been confirmed so far with more than 300 people still unaccounted for.

Around 3,000 families have lost their homes, it added.

Warming temperatures due to climate change are increasing the intensity and frequency of Africa’s rains, according to United Nations climate experts.

This can increase the destruction wrought by the floods and landslides that were already common in South Kivu. Poor urban planning and weak infrastructure also make it more vulnerable to such events.

Floods and landslides are not uncommon occurrences in South Kivu.

The last incident of a similar scale occurred in October 2014 when heavy rain destroyed more than 700 homes. Over 130 people were reported missing at the time, according to the United Nations.

Heavy rainfall and floods have led to tragedies in other parts of the country as well.

Last month, at least 21 people died and several were reported missing a day after a landslide in North Kivu province.

In December, at least 169 people were killed due to rains in the capital, Kinshasa.

Ongoing crises

The floods add to an ongoing humanitarian crisis in the eastern DRC due to decades of violence from multiple armed groups.

The region has been plagued by fighting by at least 122 rebel groups for more than 25 years, according to a recent count by the United Nations. Consequently, millions of people have been displaced, the Norwegian Refugee Council said in a report in June. The DRC is home to more than 5.5 million internally displaced people, the third-highest number in the world. A million other Congolese have also fled the country.

Multiple reports put food shortages at the highest level ever recorded with 27 million people – a third of the country’s population going hungry.

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