Central Congo floods kill at least 22 people

Relatives gather to identify bodies in the village of Nyamukubi, South Kivu Province in Congo on May 6, 2023. [AP Photo]

Flooding triggered by heavy rains in central Congo killed at least 22 people, including 10 from the same family, a local official said Tuesday.

The hourslong rainfall in the district of Kananga in Kasai Central province destroyed many houses and structures, the province's governor, John Kabeya, said as rescue efforts intensified in search of survivors. Five more deaths were confirmed later on Tuesday in addition to the initially reported death toll of 17, he said.

"The collapse of a wall caused 10 deaths, all members of the same family in Bikuku," Kabeya said.

There was significant material damage caused by the floods, according to Nathalie Kambala, country director of The Hand in Hand for Integral Development nongovernmental organization.

Flooding caused by heavy rainfall is frequent in parts of Congo, especially in remote areas. In May, more than 400 people died in floods and landslides brought on by torrential overnight rains in eastern Congo's South Kivu province.

Among the structures damaged in the latest flooding was the Higher Institute of Technology of Kananga, as well as a church and a major road that was cut off, said Kabeya, who added that urgent action would be requested from the national government.

Heavy rains triggered a landslide in eastern Congo late Sunday, killing at least four people and leaving at least 20 missing.