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Thousands of flood victims are still missing in Democratic Republic of Congo


Rescue workers are digging through wreckage and mud in search of the dead in a remote part of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Flooding last week has killed at least 400 people, but many thousands are still missing, so that number is sure to rise. The waters triggered mudslides that wiped out homes, crops and livestock. For an update on the situation, I'm joined by Jean-Claude Nzay. He's with the humanitarian organization Chorus International. He is based in Goma, which is about 80 miles from where the worst flooding took place.

Welcome, sir. Thank you for joining us.

JEAN-CLAUDE NZAY: Hello, Michel. Thank you for having me on air.

MARTIN: The reports say that whole neighborhoods were wiped out. What are you hearing now from the villages that were affected?

NZAY: More than 3,000 houses have been affected and more than 1,200 houses completely destroyed. Community members are still searching for their loved ones in the rubble. As the search continues, as of yesterday, 415 people were confirmed dead and buried with the support from the local government. And the search continues at all the level in the community affected by the mudslide.

MARTIN: Are there any medical facilities or other facilities to treat people who are injured if they can be rescued?

NZAY: Currently, Nyamukubi and the Bushushu health centers have been directly affected. And the general hospital - I mean, plus the general hospital, that have hosted thousands of wounded people, but currently they are facing issues related to pharmaceuticals and other important medicines. And as we're talking with some of the local folks on the ground this morning, the need is still growing in terms of medical support. So we still assessing the situation on the ground with the support from the government to see how, like, humanitarian organizations and others might jump in and support those affected by the mudslide.

MARTIN: Do you have any sense of whether the government is a presence there yet at all or, for example, non-governmental organizations like yours? I understand that you are getting some reports. But really, is there any real presence there yet?

NZAY: Currently, we have a confirmation of the South Kivu government. And the national government representatives who've been in Kalehe provided some non-food items, and we don't have the details yet.

MARTIN: OK. Mr. Nzay, before we let you go, there's been flooding in both Rwanda and Uganda in recent days, too. I understand that more than a hundred people died in Rwanda. How common is this at this time of year in Central Africa, where you are, or is this unusual?

NZAY: Yes, this situation currently is unusual. We are tending to think that this is linked more likely to climate change issues. As of yesterday, we were still counting around 100 people dead. So this situation is seemingly increasing as we still in the rainy season. And with the rivers here and there being overflowed, we are pretty sure that this situation is not going to end soon enough.

MARTIN: Jean-Claude Nzay. He's a program support specialist with the humanitarian organization Corus International.

Mr. Nzay, thank you so much for talking with us today.

NZAY: Thank you, Michel.

(SOUNDBITE OF ANTOINE MINOT'S "LARGO 'POETIQUE'") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.