At least 100 people have been killed after flooding in parts of Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
According to Associated Press, Prime Minister Jean-Michel Lukonde said a search was ongoing for more bodies.
Earlier on Tuesday, the death toll had stood at 50 according to Sylvano Kasongo, Kinshasa’s police head, Reuters reported.
“We are already at around fifty deaths and that is not yet final,” Kasongo was quoted as saying at the time.
According to him, the rains caused landslides and roads to submerge.
Images shared online showed entire neighbourhoods flooded with muddy water and roads ripped apart by sinkholes.
One video appeared to show a major highway cut in half by a giant hole that had swallowed several vehicles in Mont-Ngafula district.
TheCable has not been able to immediately verify these images.
In a statement on Tuesday, Félix-Antoine Tshilombo, DRC’s president, extended his condolences to the families.
“The Head of State, Félix-Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo learned, with great sorrow, of the death of several people including children, following the torrential rains which fell on Kinshasa, in the night from Monday to Tuesday,” the statement reads.
“The Head of State presents his most heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families, asks the national and provincial governments to come to their aid and speed up the rainwater drainage works to prevent this type of disaster from happening again.”
This is not the first time DRC’s capital will be hit by floods.
In 2019, at least 39 people died when torrential rain flooded low-lying districts, and some buildings and roads collapsed.
Kinshasa, once a site of fishing and trading villages situated along the Congo River, is now one of the world’s fastest-growing megacities.
However, its geographical location has made it vulnerable to seasonal flash floods.
Major roads in the city centre were submerged as heavy rains continued for hours and several homes collapsed.
Many of those who died were in hillside areas that suffered landslides.
The government has announced a three-day period of national mourning.
The death toll, which was first estimated to be at least 55, jumped to more than 120 by Tuesday evening.
Entire neighbourhoods were flooded with muddy water, and houses and roads were ripped apart by sinkholes, including the N1 highway that connects the capital to the country’s main port of Matadi.
An AFP journalist saw the bodies of nine members of a single family who were killed when their home collapsed.
“We’ve never seen a flood here on this scale,” said Blanchard Mvubu, who lives in one of the worst affected areas.
“I was asleep and I could feel the water in the house. It’s a disaster – we’ve lost all our possessions in the house, and nothing could be saved.”
Prime Minister Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde led a government delegation through parts of Kinshasa to assess the damage on Tuesday.
Associated Press/ The Cable