The government of the province of South Kivu in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo) reports catastrophic flooding has caused widespread damage and loss of life in the province over the last few days. Media reports suggest between 60 and 70 bodies have been recovered, with many more feared dead.
In a statement, the provincial government said heavy rains on 04 May 2023 caused several rivers including the Cibira/Cabondo and Nyamukubi to overflow, flooding villages including Bushushu and Nyamukubi in the Kalehe Territory.
The town of Kalehe sits on the shore of Lake Kivu, around 50 km (30 miles) across the lake from the Western Province of Rwanda where over 100 people have died in floods and landslides over the last few days.
Reuters reported humanitarian workers at the scene have recovered at least 72 bodies in Kalehe Territory. Radio Okapi, the United Nations radio in the Democratic Republic of Congo, said over 60 bodies have been recovered. Many are still feared after dozens of homes and their inhabitants were swept away. The destruction is “immeasurable” a local resident said.
The Provincial Government said offered its sincere condolences to bereaved families. Full damage assessments are yet to be completed and the number of fatalities is still to be confirmed. Roads have been destroyed or blocked, hindering access to affected areas. A delegation from the provincial government is planning to visit affected areas.
The same areas were hit by severe flooding in October 2014.
Heavy rain has affected areas of South Kivu Province since early April. Road traffic linking the city of Uvira to Bukavu was suspended and 250 homes were damaged in the village of Kasanga near Uvira on 03 April.
On 16 April the Gokwe River broke its banks in Kalehe, damaging houses, schools, churches and roads. In the following days, the Kalimabenge River broke its banks near Uvira. Around 600 houses were destroyed and 180 were damaged, with 780 households displaced. Three people died and 1 was reported missing.
Heavy rain has affected other areas of the country in recent days, including in Kwango and Ituri Provinces.
Around 20 homes were washed away in the town of Kenge, the capital of Kwango province in the west of the country on 02 May 2023. A further 40 houses were deemed to be at risk, and dozens of families have been displaced.
Heavy rain and strong winds on 03 May destroyed more than 1,000 shelters in a camp for internally displaced in Savo in Djugu territory in Ituri Province. Radio Okapi said around 4,000 people have been left without shelter.