Heavy rain in South Kivu province causes the river to overflow, causing significant damage in the villages of Bushushu and Nyamukubi.
Heavy rainfall in South Kivu province in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo caused a river to flood and resulted in significant damage and loss of life in the villages of Bushushu and Nyamukubi, the provincial government said in a statement without citing a death toll .
But a Reuters reporter in Bushushu saw humanitarian workers pull bodies from the rubble on Friday and counted at least 72, many of whom were women and children.
The weather had cleared, revealing flattened houses and corrugated iron roofs protruding from thick layers of mud, photographs showed.
Wild-looking survivors stood outside a wooden shed in which Red Cross workers in blue scrubs piled bodies. Many had lost clothing and were covered in dirt.
Local administrator Thomas Bakenga said Thursday evening that at least 17 people have died in the floods and about 40 people are missing.
Flooding and landslides are not uncommon in South Kivu.
The last incident of a similar magnitude occurred in October 2014 when torrential rain destroyed more than 700 homes. More than 130 people were reported missing, according to the United Nations.
Heavy rainfall and flooding have also led to tragedies in other parts of the country.
Last month, at least 21 people were killed and several went missing a day after a landslide in North Kivu province.
At least 169 people were killed by rain in the capital Kinshasa in December.
The floods add to an ongoing humanitarian crisis in eastern DRC following decades of violence by multiple armed groups.
According to a recent United Nations count, the region has been ravaged by fighting by at least 122 rebel groups for more than 25 years. As a result, millions of people have been displaced, the Norwegian Refugee Council said in a June report. The DRC is home to more than 5.5 million internally displaced persons, the third highest number in the world. A million other Congolese have also fled the country.
Multiple reports put food shortages at the highest level ever recorded with 27 million people – a third of the country’s population – going hungry.