More than 120 people have died following the worst floods in years in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital Kinshasa, authorities said.
Main streets in the city center were submerged due to heavy rains which continued for hours and several houses collapsed.
Many of those who died were in hilly areas that experienced landslides on Tuesday.
The government announced a three-day period of national mourning.
Whole neighborhoods were inundated by muddy water, and houses and streets ripped apart by sinkholes, including the N1 highway that connects the capital to the country’s main port, Matadi.
Kenga Mwamba told BBC News Swahili that her house had collapsed, trapping her family inside.
“There was no way into my house. I was able to save only one child. I saw my wife’s body floating in the house. I saw my other three children under the rubble, they were already dead. The neighbors came to help remove the bodies after the rain has stopped.”
An AFP reporter saw the bodies of nine members of a single family who were killed when their house collapsed.
“We have never seen a flood here of this magnitude,” said Blanchard Mvubu, who lives in one of the hardest hit areas.
“I was sleeping and I felt water in the house. It’s a disaster: we lost all our belongings in the house, nothing could be saved.”
Prime Minister Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde led a government delegation through parts of Kinshasa on Tuesday to assess the damage.
He said officials were still looking for more bodies.
On Tuesday, the president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo joined the United States in blaming climate change for the severe floods.
“The DRC is under pressure, but unfortunately it is not being listened to or supported enough,” President Félix Tshisekedi told Secretary of State Antony Blinken as they met at the US-Africa summit in Washington.
The floods were an example of “what we have long deplored,” he said, adding that countries responsible for the pollution should do more to help those suffering.
His spokesman said the president could cut short his trip to the United States due to the disaster.
Kinshasa sits on the Congo River and has seen a huge population influx in recent years, with 15 million people now living there.
Many dwellings are slums built on flood-prone slopes, and the city suffers from inadequate drainage and sewage.
“One of the main reasons this is happening is because of substandard housing and poor planning,” Longombo Dieudonné of the Red Cross rescue team told the BBC.
“When it rains, there is no path for the water to flow because people have blocked the drainage paths with their houses and the water will find any path to move.”
BBC weather presenter Stav Danaos said: “Although information from the area is limited due to a lack of weather stations, we think over 150mm of rain fell around the capital on Monday night/early Tuesday.
“It’s also difficult to be certain about the forecast for the next few days, but there is the potential for more showers and storms, perhaps lasting into the weekend, but not as intense as we are.” [have] Already seen.”
In November 2019, about 40 people in Kinshasa died from floods and landslides.