KALEHE, DRC: According to local authorities in the province of South Kivu, the death toll from flash floods and landslides in eastern Congo has surpassed 200, with many more people still missing.
The administrator of Kalehe, the hardest-hit territory, Thomas Bakenge, told reporters on the ground Saturday that 203 dead had been recovered so far, but that efforts to find more were ongoing.
Rescue workers and survivors crawled through the remains of Nyamukubi, where hundreds of homes were washed away, on Saturday, looking for additional bodies in the mud.
Villagers sobbed as they gathered around several of the remains retrieved so far, which were covered in muddy cloths on the grass near a rescue personnel position.
Anuarite Zikujuwa, a grieving survivor, revealed she had lost her whole family, including her in-laws, as well as many of her neighbors. “The entire village has become a wasteland.” “There are only stones left, and we can’t even tell where our land used to be,” she explained.
According to Michake Ntamana, a rescue worker who is assisting in the search for and burial of the dead, communities are attempting to identify and gather the bodies of loved ones found thus far. He claimed that bodies washing down from towns higher in the hills were being buried wrapped only in tree leaves. “It’s truly sad because we have nothing else here,” he explained.
On Thursday, rivers burst their banks in settlements in Kalehe area near the coast of Lake Kivu. Numerous persons have been reported injured by authorities. According to one survivor, the flash floods hit so swiftly that they caught everyone off guard.
South Kivu Governor Théo Ngwabidje visited the area to see for himself the devastation. He announced on Twitter that the province government has sent medical, housing, and food supplies.
Rains have rendered several major roads leading to the impacted area inaccessible, complicating relief efforts.
President Felix Tshisekedi has announced a national day of mourning for the victims on Monday, and the federal government has dispatched a crisis management team to South Kivu to assist the province government.
Heavy rains in recent days have wreaked havoc on thousands of people across East Africa, with portions of Uganda and Kenya also experiencing flooding.
Flooding and landslides killed 129 people in Rwanda, which borders Congo, earlier this week.
“This is the fourth time that such damage has been caused by the same rivers,” local government official Bakenge told AP. Not a decade goes by without them wreaking havoc.”