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Thursday, 6 February, 2003, 11:46 GMT
Storm kills scores in DR Congo

A tropical storm has hit western Democratic Republic of Congo, killing more than 150 people and destroying seven villages.

Relief agencies and the government are now sending medical teams to Yumbi, in Bandundu Province, 300 kilometres north-east of the capital, Kinshasa.

Congo's national weather station has predicted that this year's rains will be the heaviest in 10 years, causing damage along the length of the Congo river and flooding large parts of Kinshasa.

Three years ago, thousands of people had to be evacuated from Kinshasa, when the Congo river burst its banks.

Urgent help required

For 15 minutes at 2300 local time on the night of 2 February a tornado passing over Bandundu Province, in the west laying waste to seven villages: Molumbo, Nkolo, Bombala, Maboka, Bongembe, Nkombe and Botamba.

Health Minister Mashako Mamba said that the storm had killed 164 people, injured 1,702 more, destroyed 1,664 houses and leaving 1,970 people homeless.

The health ministry, local and international relief agencies have already sent teams of doctors and 800 kilogrammes of medicines to Yumbi airstrip.

Kinshasa skyline
Kinshasa has also been hit

From there they have travelled by boat, for two hours, further upstream to reach the affected villages.

Dr Mashako said that 217 people require urgent medical help.

They have been injured by falling trees, collapsing houses and schools.

A relief worker said more teams and temporary shelters would be sent in the coming days.

The heavy rains also hit the capital. On Monday morning much of the city centre flooded, and some the main roads were blocked by enormous puddles.


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