Devastating floods, triggered by heavy torrential downpours, have claimed the lives of at least 50 people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and left thousands of others homeless.
The raging floods made the Kalamu River, which flows through the southwestern port city of Boma, burst its banks for at least two consecutive hours on Wednesday.
Some of the bodies of those killed on the path of the flood were washed away across the border into neighboring Angola.
According to Jacques Mbadu, the governor of Kongo Central province, where the flooding occurred, the pouring rains started on late Monday and lasted until Wednesday. He added that a search operation was underway to recover more bodies, which may possibly be buried in the mud.
“We buried 31 bodies on Wednesday and we expect to get about 20 more bodies back today that ended up across the border in Angola,” Mbadu said on Thursday.
He said water in the Kalamu River rose up by two meters, inundating residential areas along its banks and destroying at least 500 homes. It also left some 10,000 people homeless, he said.
According to Mbadu, the heavy rains and the subsequent flooding was a cyclical phenomenon that happened once in a decade, the last time of which was in January last year, “but with climate change, it’s now happened again in December 2016.”
Some reports say that two of Boma’s three districts were still buried in mud, as thick as one meter in some places.
Therese-Louise Mambu, the health minister for Kongo Central Province, also said that the damage was “very serious.”
Boma, the country’s only Atlantic port, lies near the mouth of the Congo River, the world’s deepest river, and some 470 kilometers southwest of the capital, Kinshasa.
The DR Congo, despite having vast mineral wealth, is among the world’s poorest nations. Government services to handle natural disasters are almost non-existent.