At Least 400 Dead In Water Disaster

On Sunday, a local official reported that the death toll from flooding in eastern Congo had risen to around 400.

More victims were found Sunday, including many floating on Lake Kivu in the South Kivu province.

On Thursday night, torrential rains hit the Kalehe area. Rivers overflowed their banks, triggering flash floods that swept away most of the buildings in the communities of Bushushu and Nyamukubi.

Kalehe’s civic head, Delphin Birimbi, said thousands of people are still missing. Medical professionals had arrived to treat the injured, but locals were still clamoring for more emergency help.

The water made two major routes impassable, which delayed relief efforts.

Valet Chebujongo, a political activist involved in the rescue operations in Kalehe, reported over the phone that more than 170 people had been buried in four mass graves.

The Congolese government has ordered flags to be flown at half-staff on Monday.

Congo’s president, Félix Tshisekedi, reportedly despatched a group of government officials and politicians to Bukavu, Lake Kivu’s south, with plans to visit the damaged area on Monday.

On Monday, rescue workers were still finding bodies.

Many confused survivors were lamenting the loss of multiple loved ones as flash floods in South Kivu province obliterated the communities of Bushushu and Nyamukubi.

Alliance Mufanzara, 22, said her home was lost in the muck.

“Our family suffered the loss of six members.”  “In our house, five children died, and our mother was the sixth,” she said, pointing at a vacant area of muddied ground.

Only three people are left: her father, younger brother, and herself.

She said, “We’re afraid because our entire family is dead.” As in, “We have nothing.”

“It is an unprecedented humanitarian disaster,” government spokesman Patrick Muyaya said.

The death toll has more than doubled from Friday to Monday, with well over 400 people now verified dead. According to sources on the ground, the number is expected to increase even higher. The dead were still being discovered in waterways and under debris. According to the United Nations, hundreds of people are missing.

The floods have affected around 8,800 people, destroying houses and schools and closing roadways. Concerns have been raised concerning cleanliness due to the destruction of sewage infrastructure.

The Red Cross also reported that families had been split up, and traumatized survivors sought shelter with strangers.

South Kivu is especially susceptible to these calamities because of poor urban design and inadequate infrastructure.