At least 200 killed in eastern DR Congo flash floods

More than 200 people have died in flash floods in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo after heavy rain destroyed buildings and forced aid workers to gather mud-clad corpses into piles.

According to South Kivu governor Theo Ngwabije, dozens of people were unaccounted for in the Kalehe region, west of Lake Kivu and near the Rwandan border, where the floods on Friday washed away hundreds of homes.

Archimede Karhebwa, assistant administrator of Kalehe also said that several villages in Kalehe were inundated when rivers burst their banks after heavy rains.

Karhebwa added that the floods carried away hundreds of houses and also “surprised vendors and their clients in the markets.”

He also declared that deforestation in the area and climate change have caused the flooding problem, adding that they are asking for “urgent aid” from people.

“We are sending out an SOS to people of good will and for urgent humanitarian aid,” he added.

He explained that the area had been studied and people living by the river requested to leave.

An elected official from Kalehe, also told a local radio station that the floods had been “devastating human and material damage”.

The government has announced that a day of national mourning will be observed on Monday with flags lowered to half-mast “in memory of the lost compatriots”.

A local civil society member, Kasole Martin, said 227 bodies had been found.

“People are sleeping out in the open, schools and hospitals have been swept away,” Martin said.

Red Cross workers in blue scrubs placed bodies on top of each other, while many had lost clothing and covered in dirt.

Dozens of survivors were being treated at a local hospital, after sustaining injuries during the flood.

However, they did not have enough medicine and equipment to properly treat the injured.

“This is an opportunity for us to send a message to everyone, to know that during disasters we must be rescued and helped with consumables.” Dr Norbert Walangulu in Kalehe territory’s main hospital, said.

The rainfall in the Kalehe territory in South Kivu province caused rivers to overflow on Thursday, immersing the villages of Bushushu and Nyamukubi.

Heavy rains also triggered flooding and landslides in Rwanda this week, killing 130 people and destroying more than 5,000 homes.

Experts say extreme weather events in Africa are happening with increased frequency and intensity due to climate change.

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