36 Dead After Heavy Rain In DR Congo Capital

A road surface swept away by a landslide caused by torrential overnight rains is photographed in the Lemba district of Kinshasa, on November 26, 2019. PHOTO: ANGE KASONGO / AFP

 

Thirty-six people died in the DR Congo capital Kinshasa after torrential overnight rains, with some swept away by landslides, a top city official said Tuesday, giving a provisional toll.

“The (provincial) interior minister has just advised of a toll of 36 dead. The search (for survivors) is continuing. The loss, in terms of property and lives, is really huge,” Kinshasa’s vice governor, Neron Mbungu, told AFP.

At least two bridges collapsed as well as a part of a major road in the capital, Mbungu said, adding that the dead included a child who was electrocuted.

Fatal floods and rains are frequent in Kinshasa. In January last year, dozens were killed in landslides and floods and after houses collapsed following just one night of heavy rain.

Africa’s third largest city, Kinshasa counts around 10 million inhabitants, many of whom live in precarious dwellings.

AFP

Fourteen Dead After Illegal Mine Collapses In DR Congo

 

Fourteen people were killed on Wednesday when an illegal gold mine collapsed in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the government said, giving a provisional toll.

“Fourteen dead, three hospitalized with serious injuries. Search continuing,” Steve Mbikayi, the minister of national solidarity and humanitarian action, said in a tweet.

The accident happened at Kampene, 180 kilometres (110 miles) south of town of Kindu.

14 Killed In Militia Attack In Northeastern DR Congo

 

 

Fourteen civilians were killed and four were wounded on Wednesday in a militia attack on a village in the northeastern Ituri region of the DR Congo, which has been hit by months of violence.

In June, 160 people were killed in the region and more than 300,000 people fled the violence caused by local militia, according to official figures.

“We counted 14 civilian bodies and the four wounded were taken to hospital” after the attack on the village of Ngaddu, Desire Malo, a local society leader, told AFP.

The regional administrator of the Djugu territory confirmed the death toll, saying: “We hope that the army will take all precautions to protect the population.”

The spokesman for the regional army, Jules Tshikudi, said it was “pursuing the attackers” and that it “deplores the death of innocent civilians”.

In late 2017 and early 2018, the Djugu territory in Ituri was rocked by inter-communal violence, resulting in dozens of deaths and thousands fleeing across the border into Uganda.

Authorities and communities have been reluctant to talk about a revival of a communal conflict between Lendu farmers and Hema breeders which killed tens of thousands of people between 1999 and 2003 in Ituri.

DR Congo Medics Arrested Over Murder Of WHO Ebola Doctor

Three Congolese medics have been detained over the murder of a World Health Organization (WHO) doctor who was fighting an Ebola outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo, a military prosecutor said on Wednesday.

Cameroonian doctor Richard Valery Mouzoko Kiboung was shot dead on April 19 in an attack on a hospital in the eastern city of Butembo.

The arrested doctors will be prosecuted for “terrorism” and “criminal conspiracy,” Lieutenant-Colonel Jean-Baptiste Kumbu Ngoma, military prosecutor for Butembo in North Kivu province, told AFP.

The three are accused of holding meetings on April 14 to plot the assassination of Mouzoko, he added.

The WHO said Mouzoko had been deployed as part of a medical team to help rein in the Ebola outbreak which started last August in North Kivu.

The prosecutor said the doctors were “among the moral authors” of the attack on Mouzoko. He said one more doctor was being sought in the case.

In a letter to the mayor of Butembo, the local doctors’ association expressed indignation at the arrests and said they would go on strike if their colleagues were not released within 48 hours.

But the military prosecutor dismissed their demands as “out of the question”.

“It’s a delicate situation. As a man has died, we absolutely have to know the truth about what happened,” the coordinator of the fight against Ebola in DR Congo, Jean-Jacques Muyembe, told AFP.

More than 1,800 people have died from the virus in the past year.

The outbreak is the second deadliest on record, after the epidemic that struck West Africa in 2014-2016, which killed more than 11,300 people.

Efforts to roll back the highly contagious haemorrhagic fever have been hampered not only by fighting but also by resistance within communities to preventative measures, care facilities and safe burials.

Attacks on health workers have had a devastating effect, with seven murdered and more than 50 seriously hurt, according to an unofficial tally.

After the killing of Mouzoko in April, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “We will not be intimidated… we will finish our work.”

AFP

WHO Declares Congo’s Ebola Outbreak An ‘Emergency Of Global Concern’

The World Health Organization on Wednesday declared the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo a “public health emergency of international concern,” a rare designation only used for the gravest epidemics.

The year-old Ebola epidemic in eastern DR Congo, the second deadliest on record, has largely been contained to remote areas, but this week saw a patient diagnosed with the virus in provincial capital Goma, the first case in a major urban hub.

“It is time for the world to take notice,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement, as he accepted the advice of his advisory board to invoke the emergency provision, activated by the UN health agency only four times previously.

Those included the H1N1, or swine flu, the pandemic of 2009, the spread of poliovirus in 2014, the Ebola epidemic that devastated parts of West Africa from 2014 to 2016 and the surge of the Zika virus in 2016.

The Ebola virus is highly contagious and has an average fatality rate of around 50 percent. It is transmitted to humans from wild animals and spreads among people through close contact with the blood, body fluids, secretions or organs of an infected person.

Responders had hoped that this Ebola outbreak would be easier to control, thanks in part to a new vaccine.

While more than 160,000 people in the affected provinces of North Kivu and Ituri have been vaccinated, containment efforts have been hampered by chronic unrest in the region and a lack of trust in communities for health workers.

A panel of top WHO officials that met in Geneva on Wednesday to issue the emergency call expressed “disappointment about delays in funding which have constrained the response.”

A fresh UN funding appeal for several hundred million dollars to cover the ensuing six months is expected in the coming days.

Reacting to the emergency declaration, the president of Doctors Without Borders, Joanne Liu, called for “a change of gear” in response to the outbreak.

“We need to take stock of what is working and what is not working,” she said.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies welcomed the decision, voicing hope that the emergency call “will bring the international attention that this crisis deserves.”

Goma case ‘game-changer’

Since August last year, the DRC Ebola outbreak has killed more than 1,600 people out of more than 2,500 cases.

WHO has held off on making the emergency declaration on three previous occasions, but the confirmation of a case in North Kivu’s capital Goma escalated the crisis.

Tedros this week called the Goma patient a “potential game-changer,” because the city is a “gateway” to Africa’s Great Lakes region and the wider world.

The Goma patient has been described as an evangelical preacher who travelled to Goma from Butembo, one of the towns hardest hit by Ebola.

He had reportedly touched several Ebola patients in Butembo and concealed his identity in order to evade health screenings while en route to Goma.

The emergency committee cited the patient, who has died, as a “specific cause for concern”.

Even if the risk of global spread is “still low”, the Goma case posed “worrying signs of possible extension of the epidemic,” the committee said.

A city of about one million people, Goma sits on the northern shore of Lake Kivu, adjacent to Rwanda’s town of Gisenyi.

It has a port that links to DRC city Bukavu and the South Kivu province as well as an airport with flights to the capital Kinshasa, Uganda’s Entebbe and Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia.

Checking temperatures at borders

At the Goma-Gisenyi crossing on Wednesday, megaphone announcements instructed all travellers to wash their hands “to prevent Ebola sickness virus,” using basins of water with added bleach.

Health workers wearing yellow high-visibility jackets took the temperature of people crossing the border, in both directions.

WHO’s announcement provoked a mixed response from DR Congo’s Health Minister Oly Ilunga Kalenga, who has been critical of the motive of some non-governmental organisations in raising donations for the crisis.

He said that while he “accepts” WHO’s decision, he hoped it was not “the result of pressure from different groups… who want to use the statement as an opportunity to raise funds for humanitarian actors”.

“We hope there will be greater transparency and accountability by humanitarian actors in how they use their funds to respond to this Ebola outbreak,” he said in a statement.

The WHO’s international health regulations, drafted in 2005, say that the emergency label should apply to a situation that is “an extraordinary event that poses a public health risk to other countries through the international spread and that potentially requires a coordinated international response.”

Some fear that making the emergency call could trigger border closures, which the head of the WHO emergency panel, Robert Steffen, strongly urged against.

AFP

13 People, Mainly Stowaways, Killed In Congo Train Crash

 

Thirteen people mainly stowaways, were killed when two trains collided overnight in the Republic of Congo, the Congo-Ocean Railway (CFCO) company and police said Monday.

Several others were injured in the crash between a train transporting freight and another with a mineral load, a CFCO agent told AFP on condition of anonymity.

“A train transporting minerals experienced a technical failure and crashed with a freight train,” said the source.

The crash happened near the port city of Pointe-Noire.

Police confirmed the toll and said most of the victims were stowaway riders.

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The mineral train belonged to the Sapro mining company and had departed from Mayoko, some 300 kilometres (186 miles) northeast of Pointe-Noire, where Sapro excavates iron ore.

Constructed when Congo was a French colony, the CFCO train line from Pointe-Noire in the southwest to Brazzaville in the southeast, near the border with much larger neighbour DR Congo, is a key economic artery.

Traffic along the line was interrupted for two years from 2016 to 2018 due to clashes between the army and the rebel “Ninja” militia loyal to a former prime minister.

The last accident on the CFCO line, in June 2010, killed 53 people.

AFP

Salah Sends Egypt Into Cup Of Nations Last 16

 

Mohamed Salah scored his first goal of the Africa Cup of Nations as hosts Egypt secured a place in the last 16 on Wednesday with a 2-0 win over the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Ahmed Elmohamady prodded Egypt ahead on 25 minutes after a wicked Salah cross and the Liverpool star slammed in a second shortly before half-time to spark frenzied celebrations at a packed Cairo International Stadium.

Record seven-time champions Egypt rode their luck at times as DR Congo twice struck the crossbar in the first half but the Group A leaders held firm to join Nigeria as the first teams through to the knockout phase.

Egypt overcame the distraction of Amr Warda being banished from the squad earlier in the day over mounting sexual harassment allegations. The claims surfaced earlier this week on social media platforms. Multiple women posted screenshots and testimonies of Warda’s alleged lewd comments.

Coach Javier Aguirre fielded the same side that defeated Zimbabwe 1-0, with centre-back Ahmed Hegazy sporting a mask after breaking his nose in the opening game of the tournament.

Salah was guilty of missing a hatful of chances in the curtain-raiser and this season’s Premier League joint top scorer again threatened inside five minutes here when an interception broke his way only for the Egyptian to skew wide under pressure.

After four days of small crowds, a capacity 75,000 crowd again turned out to cheer on the hosts in the capital, but they were nearly silenced when Marcel Tisserand slammed against the bar at a corner.

DR Congo came to Egypt as one of the most unpredictable qualifiers having finished third in 2015 only to make a timid quarter-final exit two years ago, and they fell behind for the second straight game as Elmohamady forced home after the ball fell kindly to him following an aerial challenge with Christian Luyindama.

Having created the opener with his vicious right-wing cross, Salah then stung the palms of Ley Matampi with a powerful 25-yard free-kick.

Egypt would be rescued by the woodwork once more though when a deep cross was nodded back across goal by Bokadi Bope before Jonathan Bolingi’s looping header bounced back off the bar.

With his side riding their luck, Salah rose to the occasion and settled Egyptian nerves two minutes before half-time with a typically brilliant finish.

Played into space down the right by Mahmoud ‘Trezeguet’ Hassan, Salah skipped inside Tisserand and ripped a crisp low drive inside Matampi’s near post to cue a volcanic eruption from the masses of delirious Egyptians supporters.

Mohamed El Shenawy produced an excellent sprawling second-half save to claw out a Jacques Maghoma header, but despite an improvement on a horror first outing, DR Congo now know they must beat Zimbabwe in their final game in order to possibly advance as one of the four best third-place finishers.

AFP

DR Congo Soldiers, Militia Killed In Lakeside Attack

 

Four soldiers and 13 militiamen died in an attack on an army base on the banks of Lake Albert in northeast Democratic Republic of Congo, military sources said Friday.

An army officer told AFP the attackers belonged to a group of the Lendu ethnic community.

“In the attack on our position in Musekere, the Armed Forces of the DR Congo (FARDC) killed 13 militia members. We lost four soldiers,” Lieutenant-General Egide Ngoy, commander of the naval force at Kasenyi, also in Ituri province, told AFP.

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Last year, clashes over land between militia from the Hema herder community and the Lendu, who are farmers, resulted in more than 100 deaths and displaced some 300,000 people towards the centre of the country or to Uganda, on the other side of the lake.

Lakes in the region are a cause of tension between the two neighbours, with claims of Congolese militia members crossing to the Ugandan side for illegal fishing, often accompanied by attacks on locals.

Kampala seeks to crack down on illegal fishing, spurred by dwindling fish resources.

Aside from illegal fishermen, armed groups from the conflict-torn eastern DRC also rob fishermen of their boats and engines, or seize them to demand ransom.

Uganda has deployed the military onto the water, and hundreds of Congolese fishermen have been arrested.

Last July, soldiers from the two countries clashed on Lake Edward, leaving two Ugandan soldiers and three civilians dead.

AFP 

Death Toll Hits 13 In DR Congo Landslides

 

Seven people died in a landslide in eastern DR Congo on Monday, bringing the death toll to 13 over the past three days, as torrential rain lashes the region, local officials said.

Already on Friday, six people had been killed in Mahanga in the province of North Kivu, according to a local NGO for indigenous peoples.

Then on Monday, seven more people were killed in a second landslide in the same area, the administrator for the Masisi territory, Cosmas Tangakolo, told AFP.

READ ALSO: 38 Killed As Floods Worsen In Mozambique After Second Cyclone

Among the material damage, six bridges, eight schools, and 90 homes were swept away in the heavy rain, NGO workers said.

The mountainous and densely-wooded region in the east of DR Congo is frequently hit by killer floods.

AFP

FG Mourns Ex-Nigerian Ambassador To Congo, Saleh Pisagih

FG Mourns Ex-Nigerian Ambassador To Congo, Saleh Pisagih
File photo: Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama.

 

A former Nigerian ambassador to the Republic of Congo, Saleh Pisagih, is dead.

The Federal Government announced this on Thursday in a statement by the acting spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Friday Akpan.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs regrets to announce the untimely demise of Ambassador Saleh Manu Pisagih, a retired career Ambassador, whose death occurred on Wednesday 16 April 2019, after a brief illness,” the statement said.

It added, “The Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, and members of Staff of the ministry received the sad news of his death with great shock and prayed that the Almighty God grant his family the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.”

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Ambassador Pisagih, who hailed from Gombe State, was born in Nyuwar in 1955 and joined the Nigerian Foreign Service in 1982.

During his career, the late Ambassador served in different capacities both at the headquarters and foreign missions such as Jakarta, The Hague, and New York (Permanent Mission).

He was appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville) in 2008.

Ambassador Pisagih retired in 2015.

The government described him as a seasoned diplomat, an exemplary gentleman, amiable, humble, jovial, and a very brilliant officer.

It also described his death as a big loss to the Nigerian Foreign Service and the nation.

Koffi Olomide Handed Suspended Sentence For Raping 15-Year-Old Girl

(FILES) In this file photo taken on August 16, 2012 Congolese singer Koffi Olomide (C) listens to the verdict at the court in Kinshasa after a three-month suspended sentence in a trial on charges of ‘hitting and injuring’ a Congolese producer.
Junior KANNAH / AFP

 

A French court on Monday handed Congolese singer Koffi Olomide a two-year suspended prison sentence for the statutory rape of one of his former dancers when she was 15.

Olomide went on trial after four former dancers claimed he sexually assaulted them several times between 2002 and 2006. The assaults allegedly happened in the Democratic Republic of Congo as well as in France, including at a villa outside Paris where the women said they were held against their will.

The dancers said they managed to make a night-time escape from the villa in June 2006 and have not returned to their country since for fear of reprisals.

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Prosecutors at his trial in Nanterre, outside Paris, had sought a seven-year prison sentence but the court dismissed the assault and kidnapping charges.

Olomide, 62, was also ordered to pay 5,000 euros ($5,700) in damages to the former dancer, as well as a 5,000-euro fine for helping three of the women enter France illegally.

The singer, whose real name is Antoine Agbepa Mumba, was first charged in 2012 with aggravated rape but the charges were subsequently reduced.

Facing a French arrest warrant, he fled to DR Congo in 2009 but had initially said he would appear at the trial to defend himself.

However, he failed to show for the trial last month, which was held behind closed doors at the women’s request.

“This is a complete victory. The accusation’s entire case fell apart,” his lawyer Emmanuel Marsigny said after the ruling.

The court also dismissed the charges against two men accused of being complicit in the assaults.

It was not the first time Olomide had been charged with violence.

He was briefly jailed in DR Congo in 2016 for kicking one of his dancers and had already been given a suspended three-month prison sentence in 2012 for striking his producer.

He is also currently sought by Zambian police for striking a Rwandan photojournalist in Lusaka in 2012.

Olomide already had a brush with the law in France, with a court finding him guilty of tax fraud in 2006.

AFP

DRC Train Death Toll Rises To 32

 

Thirty-two people were killed and 91 others injured when a freight train carrying stowaways derailed in DR Congo overnight, officials said on Monday, updating an earlier toll of 24 dead.

Officials said there was a large number of children among the dead when the train veered off the tracks in central Kasai province.

Of the injured, 18 were in serious condition, a district official told AFP after arriving at the site on Monday.

The goods train veered off the tracks as it was crossing a bridge over a river about 140 kilometers (85 miles) northwest of the provincial capital Kananga.

“Many carriages fell into the water from the bridge over the Luembe River,” a police official said late on Sunday at Bena Leka train station.

In such a vast country, stowaways tend to be very common.

“We are overwhelmed by the number of injured, we are working urgently,” said Dr. Jean Claude Tshimanga who works at the nearby Kakenge hospital when the initial toll stood at 24 dead and 31 injured.

It was the third train accident within the space of a month in central DR Congo. Last month, five people were killed when a passenger train crashed at Kalenda station.

Rail accidents in the sprawling former Belgian colony are frequent and often deadly because of decrepit track and aging locomotives dating from the 1960s.

AFP