The death toll in the Democratic Republic of the Congo continues to rise following heavy rain and extreme flooding that have ravaged the country in recent days.
At least 169 people were killed by destructive rains in Kinshasa, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and officials on Friday.
The flooding injured 30 more people and destroyed an estimated 280 homes in the capital of 15 million people, affecting approximately 38,000 residents.
The city’s Mont-Ngafula and Ngaliema districts were the hardest hit by the rains, according to officials.
On Thursday, a joint team from OCHA and the government’s social affairs ministry inspected the damage.
“Today concludes three days of national mourning in memory of those who have died,” OCHA said in a statement. “The government has confirmed that it will arrange for the dignified and secure burial of those who have died.”
Heavy rains have affected an estimated 8.2 million people in at least 20 different countries across West and Central Africa in recent weeks. According to the UN, 2.9 million people have been displaced and more than 500,000 homes have been destroyed.
Kinshasa, located on the Congo River, has seen a massive population influx in recent years, with many dwellings being shanty houses built on flood-prone slopes of a city with inadequate drainage and sewerage. Media reports on the flooding earlier this week showed muddy waters overwhelming entire neighborhoods.
“We’ve never seen a flood on this scale here,” said Blanchard Mvubu, a Mont-Ngafula resident. “I was asleep, and I could feel water in the house … The answer is yes. We’ve lost all our possessions in the house, nothing could be saved.”
One man was seen ferrying flood victims on his back through submerged streets for 500 Congolese francs ($0.24).
Flooding has also devastated the provinces of Equateur, Maniema, Nord-Ubangi, Sud-Ubangi, and Tshopo since October.
In 2019, at least 39 people died in Kinshasa when torrential rains swept through the city’s low-lying neighbourhoods, flooding entire districts, and causing the collapse of buildings and roads.