At least 120 people have been killed and dozens injured in widespread floods and landslides caused by torrential rain in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s capital, Kinshasa.
According to international media reports, entire neighbourhoods were flooded with muddy water, and houses and roads ripped apart by sinkholes and landslides, including the main highway that connects Kinshasa to the country’s main sea port of Matadi.
As per reports, the Congolese health minister health minister Jean-Jacques Mbungani Mbanda told reporters that the ministry had counted 141 dead but that the number needed to be cross-checked with other departments.
Once a collection of fishing villages on the banks of the Congo River, Kinshasa has grown into one of Africa’s largest megacities with a population of about 15 million people.
Rapid development and poor regulation have made the city increasingly vulnerable to flash floods after intense rains, which have become more frequent due to climate change.
In the Ngaliema area, more than three dozen people died and bodies were still being counted, according to the area’s mayor, Alid’or Tshibanda.
The prime minister and provincial governor were visiting the flooded areas, and local officials were expected to meet representatives of the interior ministry and other state bodies to address the emergency.
At least 39 people died in Kinshasa in 2019 when torrential rains flooded low-lying districts and some buildings and roads collapsed.
In addition to damaged infrastructure, each day of flooding in Kinshasa costs households a combined $1.2m because of the large-scale transportation disruption, according to a 2020 World Bank paper.