400-Plus Perish in Floods and Landslides in Democratic Republic of Congo

Impacted people in the Democratic Republic of Congo / credit: Akilimali Saleh Chomachoma
Impacted people in the Democratic Republic of Congo / credit: Akilimali Saleh Chomachoma

Editor’s Note: This report was originally published via email by Friends of the Congo.

BUSHUSHU, South Kivu Province, Democratic Republic of Congo—On Thursday, May 4, under the effect of heavy rain, the Nyamukubi and Chishova rivers burst their banks, causing major mudslides and landslides. In the affected areas, the damage is enormous: Entire villages have been devastated by the waters and the assessments are still provisional.

On Saturday, the territory’s administrator put the number of bodies found at 203. On Sunday, he mentioned at least 394, 120 of whom were found floating on the lake at the level of Idjwi island, the others having been found in Nyamukubi and in the neighbouring village of Bushushu. More than 200 bodies were buried on Saturday, May 6, in Bushushu and Nyamukubi.
At least 400 people are reported dead, according to a local official, and many are missing. The civil society of Kalehe says that nearly 4,500 people are still missing, as the chances of finding survivors are diminishing.
“The situation is bitter! We came to bury our brothers while the state should anticipate things by creating a special commission for the prevention of natural disasters. Whether in Uvira, Kamituga or here in Kalehe, these events are repeated, so a commission is needed,” says Benjamin Kasindi, head of the political party Alliance des Nationalistes pour un Congo Émergent in South Kivu, who traveled to bring aid to the victims.
Teams are still digging for bodies with their hands and some shovels. They wrap the bodies in blankets or sheets before burying them in mass graves. On the shore of the lake float pieces of wood, metal sheets, furniture and other materials carried by the raging rivers. Young people are trying to salvage what they can from the sunken houses: Metal sheets, metal structures, boards, etc. The Red Cross and the government are continuing to register the families who have lost their loved ones, as well as other victims.
Initial assistance in the form of medicines, tarpaulins and food from the provincial government of South Kivu arrived on the spot on the same Saturday. This aid is still insufficient in view of the number of victims, according to the administrator of Kalehe territory, Archimède Karebwa. He continues to call on the central government and other humanitarians to intervene because the situation is so deplorable.
Akilimali Saleh Chomachoma is an independent journalist in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Follow him on Twitter for updates and reports.