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Many dead as floods hit DR Congo's capital Kinshasa

Areas are damaged following torrential rains in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2022.   -  
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Samy Ntumba Shambuyi/Copyright 2021 The AP. All rights reserved.

Democratic Republic Of Congo

Over 55 people have been killed and dozens injured on Tuesday (Dec. 13) by widespread floods and landslides caused by heavy rains in Congo's capital, Kinshasa.

Kinshasa's 24 neighbourhoods were affected according to local officials.

Some 12 million people live in Congolese city. Many of whom now grieve loved ones.

"Around 4:15 a.m. we woke up, the water had gotten into the house", Robert the relative of a deceased recounted.

"We tried to channel the water elsewhere after we noticed that there was more danger. We went back to the house to sleep since we were soaked with the cold, we went back to bed, and just after, the wall collapsed on the children and the parents and on a neighbour, who was passing by. In total, nine people died."

In addition to submerging houses, the torrential rains ruined many roads. A landslide in the southern Mont-Ngafula district cut off a key supply route linking the capital with the Atlantic Ocean port of Matadi. 

Prime Minister Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde said officials were still searching for more bodies.

"We came to assess the damage and the primary damage we see is human," Lukonde said on state television Tuesday.

President Félix Tshisekedi who's attending the USA-Africa Summit in Washington sent his deepest condolences to the bereaved families. 

In a tweet, he asked "the national and provincial governments to come to" the aid of the most vulnerable and " to accelerate the work of rainwater drainage to prevent this type of disaster from happening again".

In the Ngaliema area, more than three dozen people died and bodies are still being counted, said the area's mayor, Alid’or Tshibanda. In another part of town five members of one family were killed, some by electrocution.

"It is a just calamity," said Pierrot Mantuela. The 30-year-old lost his mother, nine-year-old daughter and three brothers. "It's sad to lose all the members of my family," he said. He said he was spared because he was working Monday night when the rains began.

Officials said much of the destruction happened in houses built on plots without official permission. "They have no documents. They are chased away but they always come back," said Dieumerci Mayibazilwanga, the mayor of Mont-Ngafula, of people building unauthorized houses.

In 2019, flooding and landslides killed at least 32 in and around Kinshasa.

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