13 December 2012

Congo-Brazzaville: Torrential Rains Kill 13, Displace Hundreds

Brazzaville — Torrential rains have killed at least 13 people, injured 29 and displaced hundreds in districts south of Brazzaville, the capital of the Republic of Congo, say officials.

The heavy rains came on 8-9 December. "After the rains, we sent rescue services, who were able to recover nine bodies. The [Congolese] Red Cross recovered four bodies of people who had drowned," said Maurel Kihounzou, the mayor of the first district of Makélékélé, south of the capital.

The seventh district of Mfilou was also affected, according to a 10 December report from the government, which noted that houses collapsed under the pressure of the flood waters, killing several people as they slept.

Some 564 families had also been left without shelter, according to Clément Essiéké, the minister of humanitarian action. "We are in negotiations with the national army to get tents for the affected," he told IRIN.

At least 600 people had sought shelter temporarily in a police camp before being asked to return to their homes. "The order came from the police command. We were not given more explanation. Our camp is intended for military training," said a police officer.

The River Mfilou, which traverses parts of Makélékélé, breached its banks, bringing flood waters towards houses there. Military personnel are searching for those still missing in the flood waters.

"At our home, we were practically sleeping outside on mats. We prayed that it did not rain," said Sosthène Boukanzi, 36, of Makélékélé.

Some vehicles there have been submerged. Roads and bridges have also been cut off, and fruit trees and cultivated fields have been destroyed.

"I had a pig sty with 22 heads [of pigs], which were all washed away by the waters. Though it was a personal investment... I don't know how I am going to cope," said Sosthène Boukanzi, a teacher.

"Since my youth, I have never experienced such a disaster. The rain caused panic and grief," Toussaint Loulala, 43, a cemetery worker, said.

The rains also caused soil erosion and siltation, and affected the movement of vehicular traffic in some areas. The most-affected areas include Bifouiti, Kinsoundi, Latanaf, Makazou and Massina, according to the government report.

On 30 November, a cargo plane crashed during a severe thunderstorm close to the Brazzaville airport, killing 32 people among them four Armenians.

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations. ]

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