At least 176 villagers were killed in flooding and landslides brought on by torrential overnight rains in eastern Congo’s South Kivu province, a local official said Friday.
Thomas Bakenge, a regional government official, gave the estimate after overseeing recovery efforts. He described the scale of destruction as “enormous, beyond words … whole houses were carried away.”
He said bodies were still being collected from the shores of the nearby Lake Kivu and called for immediate assistance.
“There is absolutely nothing left here. We urgently need help.”
Two rivers broke their banks after the heavy rains which began on Thursday evening and there have been multiple landslides with scores of homes destroyed, according to Delphin Birimbi, a community leader in the region.
As bodies were pulled from the mud, some residents estimated that more three quarters of homes in the village of Nyamukubi were carried away by the floods, along with school buildings and a health centre.
Rescuers worked to find and save anyone who may be trapped under the debris from their destroyed homes.
In a statement published Friday, the provincial government of South Kivu offered its sympathies to the families affected and said it was sending a group of officials to the area.
Heavy rains have brought misery to thousands in East Africa, with parts of Uganda and Kenya also seeing heavy rainfall.
Flooding and landslides in Rwanda, which borders Congo, left 129 people dead earlier this week.