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At least 169 dead after devastating floods in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo

The UN estimated that 2.9 million people have been displaced by severe flooding in West and Central Africa.

The death toll in the Democratic Republic of the Congo continues to rise following heavy rains and extreme flooding that have ravaged the country in recent days.

At least 169 people have died as a result of destructive rains in the capital Kinshasa, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and officials said on Friday.

The flooding left another 30 people injured and destroyed some 280 homes in the capital of some 15 million people, where some 38,000 residents have been affected.

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The city’s Mont-Ngafula and Ngaliema districts bore the brunt of the downpours, authorities said.

A joint team from OCHA and the government’s Ministry of Social Affairs visited the affected areas on Thursday to inspect the damage.

“Today marks the end of three days of national mourning in memory of the deceased,” OCHA said in a statement. “The Government has confirmed that it will organize a dignified and safe burial for those who have lost their lives.”

An estimated 8.2 million people in at least 20 different countries in West and Central Africa have been affected by heavy rains in recent weeks. On Friday, the UN estimated that 2.9 million people had been displaced and more than half a million homes destroyed.

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Located on the banks of the Congo River, Kinshasa has seen a large influx of population in recent years and many dwellings are shanty houses built on the flood-prone slopes of a city that suffers from inadequate drainage and sewage. Media reports on the flooding earlier this week showed murky waters encroaching on entire neighborhoods.

congo floods
Damage from heavy rains causing flooding and landslides on the outskirts of Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on December 13, 2022 [Jude Dibawa/Reuters]

“We have never seen a flood of this magnitude here,” said Blanchard Mvubu, a Mont-Ngafula resident. “He was asleep and could feel water in the house…it’s a mess. We have lost all our possessions in the house, nothing could be saved”.

A man was seen carrying flood victims on his back through submerged streets for a fee of 500 Congolese francs ($0.24).

Equateur, Maniema, Nord-Ubangi, Sud-Ubangi and Tshopo provinces have also been severely affected by flooding since October.

In 2019, at least 39 people died in Kinshasa when torrential rains swept through the city’s slums, flooding entire districts and causing buildings and roads to collapse.

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