Hundreds are still missing in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo after heavy rainfall, landslides and flooding.
A government spokesman estimated on Tuesday that 401 people had already died, and at least 267 people were still missing following last week’s landslides in the Kalehe region of South Kivu province.
On Monday, a landslide occurred at a mine in neighbouring North Kivu province, burying more than 100 miners. A spokesman for the miners said on Tuesday that about 30 people were killed in the accident.
Meanwhile, the aid organization Doctors Without Borders has sent an emergency aid team to Kalehe. “The floods have completely wiped out some villages,” said emergency response coordinator Ulrich Crepin Namfeibona in a statement published Tuesday. “The water has washed away houses, land and livestock.” The number of victims was also so high because the accident occurred on a market day with twice as many people present than usual.
The impassability of many roads in the disaster area, including the connecting road between Bukavu and Goma, hampers the relief operation. Nearly 40 seriously injured people reportedly were rescued by boats. In addition, poor sanitary conditions threaten the spread of disease in the region.
According to aid organization Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe, aid organizations estimate that about 100,000 people in the region have been affected. The local authorities have asked for help, says Gilbert Masumbuko of Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe.
In the Kivu provinces in eastern Congo, fighting has been going on for years between various armed militias and government units. As a result, many people live as internally displaced persons in temporary camps. About 100,000 people are said to be displaced in the Kalehe region alone.