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Flood in DR Congo kills at least 50 people, leaves thousands homeless

Heavy rain in the Democratic Republic of Congo has caused a river to overflow, destroying thousands of homes. Local officials blamed climate change for the catastrophe.

Flood in Kinshasa (Getty Images/J.D.Kannah)

The Congolese capital, Kinshasa, during a flood in 2015

Sudden, heavy rainfall caused the Kalamu River in Boma to overflow at the start of the week, killing at least 50 people. Roughly 10,000 people in the western Congolese city were left homeless, according to Mayor Marie-Jose Nsuami.

"We buried 31 bodies on Wednesday and we expect to get about 20 more bodies back today that ended up across the border in Angola," local governor Jacques Mbadu told news agency AFP. The Kalamu River divides Congo and Angola; Boma is located right across the border from Angola.

According to local authorities, more than 1,000 houses were flooded. Parts of the city are still covered in mud, in some places up to a meter deep. Mbadu said authorities were still searching for "more bodies that may be buried in the mud."

Watch video 04:04

Rain Forest and Climate Protection in the Congo Basin

Is climate change to blame?

According to German news agency dpa, a crisis task force was set up to help the flood victims.     

The Democratic Republic of Congo is among the poorest countries worldwide - two-thirds of its 70 million inhabitants live on less than $1.25 (1.20 euro) per day. Buildings are often constructed in a haphazard fashion and government services to deal with natural disasters are very limited.

Mbadu told the French AFP news agency that floods were becoming more frequent in Boma due to climate change. Global warming is expected to bring more and heavier rainfall to Central Africa in the next few decades, leading to an increase in floods in the region. Late last year, dozens of people died during floods in the Congolese capital Kinshasa.

mb/sms (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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