The death toll from floods and landslides in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo rose to 203 as more bodies were found, an official said on Saturday.

The preliminary death toll, announced late Friday by the provincial governor, was at least 176.

“Here in Bushush, 203 bodies have already been removed from the rubble,” said Thomas Bakenga, the administrator of Kalehe territory, where the affected villages are located.

APTOPIX Floods in the Congo
Relatives gather to identify bodies in Nyamukubi village, South Kivu province, Congo, Saturday, May 6, 2023.

Moses Savasava via AP

It was not possible to assess the full extent of human losses and material damage, he told local media.

Heavy rainfall in the Kalehe region of South Kivu province on Thursday caused rivers to overflow, triggering landslides that swallowed the villages of Bushushu and Nyamukubi.

The slope also yielded in Nyamukubi, where the weekly market was held on Thursday, Bakenga added.

Overall, several villages were flooded, many homes washed away and fields devastated as rivers in the region burst their banks due to heavy rains.

Congolese doctor and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Denis Mukwege, whose clinic is in Bukavu, the capital of South Kivu, said on Saturday he had sent a team of surgeons, anesthesiologists and technicians to the area to “provide emergency medical assistance to the population”.

Floods in the Congo
People walk next to a flood-damaged house in Nyamukubi village, South Kivu province, Congo.

Moses Savasava via AP

The disaster came two days after flooding killed at least 131 people and destroyed thousands of homes in neighboring Rwanda.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Saturday expressed his condolences to the victims of “catastrophic flooding” in Rwanda and DR Congo.

“This is another illustration of the acceleration of climate change and its catastrophic impact on countries that have done nothing to contribute to global warming,” he said during a visit to Burundi.

Experts say extreme weather events are occurring with increasing frequency and intensity due to climate change.

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