Hundreds dead as Congo River basin rises to highest level in 60 years

Aliya Moses
2 Min Read

The Congo River has risen to its highest level in more than 60 years, causing flooding throughout the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and killing more than 300 people over the past months.

According to authorities, poor urban planning and weak infrastructure have made some African countries vulnerable to flash floods after intense rains, which have become more frequent due to climate change.

Ferry Mowa, a hydrology specialist at the DRC riverways authority, part of the transport ministry, said his office had flagged the high water level in December.

Mowa said he warned that almost the entire flood plain of the capital, Kinshasa, which sits on the banks of the river, could be affected.

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On Wednesday, the river reached 6.20 metres (20.34 feet) above sea level, just shy of the 1961 record of 6.26 metres, he told Reuters, adding that the flooding had followed exceptionally high rains inland.

“It is imperative that people who live around the river move,” Mowa said.

Several neighbourhoods in the DRC’s densely populated Kinshasa had flooded, as had communities in more than a dozen provinces, the social affairs ministry said.

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Nearly 300 people have died and 300,000 households have been affected, with thousands of houses destroyed, it said in a statement.

In the neighbouring Congo Republic, whose capital Brazzaville also sits on the banks across the river, at least 17 people had died in floods across eight departments including the capital, with more than 60,000 households affected, authorities told Reuters.

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