Friday, June 21, 2024

Congo-Kinshasa: DR Congo Struggles to Recover Bodies a Week After Deadly Flash Floods

At least 400 people have been confirmed dead after flash floods and landslides devastated eastern Democratic Republic of Congo last week, and many more are missing. Eyewitnesses in South Kivu province told RFI that bodies are still being recovered, even as fresh rains hit the region.

Search teams continue to find bodies buried under the mud that swept through villages in Kalehe territory in South Kivu on 4 May, the provincial coordinator of the Congolese Red Cross, John Kashingzwe, told RFI.

Days later, “there are smells that guide the rescuers and volunteers”, he said.

Searchers have been using spades and their own hands to dig in the absence of machinery, according to Kashingzwe, as they race against the clock to limit the health hazards from decomposing bodies.

“My children’s health is suffering,” said Bertin Kalembe, who lives in the village of Mwimbiri. “They’ve got a fever, they’re coughing, and I think it’s because of the surrounding air,” he told RFI’s correspondent William Basimike.

“We need medication to fight against the risks of contamination,” commented Espoir Lukungulika, another resident.

“With these smells, I feel sick and I’ve lost my appetite.”

Mass graves

Many of the bodies recovered so far have been buried in mass graves as authorities seek to contain health risks.

But some have criticised the decision, including senator Francine Muyumba.