At least 50 people have died after torrential rains triggered floods and sparked landslides, police chief Silvano Kasongo in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital Kinshasa said on Tuesday.
Images shared online showed entire neighborhoods flooded with muddy water and roads torn by sinkholes, which Reuters could not immediately verify.
A video appears to show a major road in the Mont-Ngafula district being cut in half by a huge hole that swallowed multiple cars. Onlookers in raincoats crawled to the edge to peer into the crack.
“We’ve had about 50 deaths and that’s not the end result yet,” Kasongo said.
A representative from the premier’s office said the prime minister and governor were visiting flooded areas and local officials were expected to meet with representatives of the interior ministry and other state agencies to address the emergency.
Once a fishing village along the Congo River, Kinshasa has grown into one of Africa’s largest megacities, with a population of around 15 million.
Rapid, poorly managed urbanization has made Kinshasa increasingly vulnerable to flash floods that follow heavy rains, which are becoming more frequent due to climate change.
In 2019, torrential rains in Kinshasa flooded low-lying areas, collapsed some buildings and roads, and killed at least 39 people.
According to a 2020 World Bank document, in addition to infrastructure damage, daily flooding in Kinshasa costs households $1.2 million due to massive transportation disruptions.