A devastating landslide caused by torrential rains has claimed the lives of at least 17 people in the northwestern Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Rescue efforts are underway, though authorities warn that the death toll could rise as more bodies are discovered beneath the mud and rubble of collapsed homes.
The tragedy unfolded in the small town of Lisal, located along the Congo River in Mongala province. The victims, all residents of homes constructed at the base of a mountain, were caught off guard by the destructive force of the landslide.
Matthieu Mole, the president of the civil society organization Forces Vives, confirmed the details of the incident on Sunday. “A torrential downpour caused a lot of damage, including a landslide that swallowed up several houses,” he stated. He also emphasized that the current death toll is tentative, as bodies may still be buried beneath the debris.
Governor Cesar Limbaya Mbangisa urgently appealed for heavy machinery to assist with debris removal and the potential rescue of survivors. Expressing his condolences to the families of the victims, Governor Mbangisa issued a decree for three days of mourning throughout the province.
This tragedy highlights the vulnerability of communities in impoverished areas with inadequate infrastructure to the impacts of extreme weather events.
Climate change has exacerbated the frequency and intensity of heavy rains in Africa, according to experts from the United Nations. Poverty and insufficient safeguard measures make the inhabitants of these regions more susceptible to the ravages of natural disasters.
Sadly, this is not the first time that the DR Congo has suffered the devastating consequences of a landslide. In April, President Felix Tshisekedi declared a national day of mourning following multiple landslides that claimed the lives of 16 individuals in the Lubero territory of North Kivu province.