“We have 401 deaths in Bushushu and Nyamukubi villages in Kalehe territory,” Kasi said.
Videos from the area show buildings swept away in the water and mud, with debris strewn across the villages.
“The Congolese government and its partners should find a safe place where the victims will be relocated and ask the population not to use the flowing waters and the lake during this period,” Chebujongo said, adding that there are “no machines to clear the mud and clear the landslides in the road to allow the population to circulate Bushushu-Nyamukubi villages. People are crossing the lake, another danger.”
Kasi said rescue operations were ongoing in spite of difficulties. “We are in a disaster. We work despite difficult conditions,” he said.
The provincial government said Saturday it was relocating residents affected by the floods to safer sites. It also said the government was funding medical care for the injured, including funeral costs for the deceased.
President Felix Tshisekedi declared Monday a national mourning for victims of the floods, government spokesman Patrick Muyaya said, adding that a national government delegation had arrived in Kalehe to assist local response efforts.
The DRC is located within the River Congo Basin where flood disasters are frequently reported. According to a World Bank report, climate-related disasters, including flooding “are likely to increase in frequency and magnitude” in the Central African country due to climate change.
The DRC continues to grapple with devastating effects of flooding across the country. In December, more than 120 people were killed after heavy rains caused severe flooding in the Congolese capital of Kinshasa, authorities said.
In 2020, more than 15,000 homes were destroyed and at least 25 people killed by floodwaters in South Kivu, a province already ravaged by armed conflict, the UN Refugee Agency reported at the time.
Months earlier, around 39 people died when torrential rains triggered landslides in Kinshasa.