DRC: Torrential rains kill 15 and leave hundreds homeless

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Fifteen people have died and hundreds more were left homeless after days of torrential rains in Kasai Occidental and Bandundu provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo, a humanitarian official told IRIN.

"At least 500 people have been left without shelter; some are still sleeping in the rubble of their houses while others have found refuge with their neighbours," Marie-Madeleine Kaneku, the director of the NGO Carotas in Luebo district of Kasai Occidental, said.

The dead included three children aged between six and 10, who died when the walls of their homes collapsed. Others were seriously injured.

At least 100 houses were destroyed by the torrential rains and the accompanying strong winds on 2 April in the town of Tshikapa, Kaneku said.

"Two schools have also been damaged by the rains," she said.

Heavy rains were also reported in Tshikapa, 101km away, where a hospital was destroyed. "The main building at the health centre of Kapemba was damaged," she said.

"Following the damage to the health centre we were forced to evacuate all the sick," François Kamudji, the medical director at the hospital, said.

Kamudji said the damaged building was one of two that had remained after three other buildings had been destroyed by previous heavy rains. The hospital was built in 1950.

"We are in a very difficult situation and we will not be able to deal with any cases of emergency surgery; the medication and healthcare equipment was destroyed by the rain," he said.

The heavy rains covered a stretch of 350km. Kaneku said those affected by the rains had not yet received help.

Source: IRIN http://www.irinnews.org