BRAZZAVILLE, 17 November (IRIN) - Six people have died and at least 5,000 others rendered homeless by heavy rains that have caused extensive flooding in Brazzaville, capital of the Republic of Congo.
The rains have continued non-stop for the past three days, sweeping away houses and causing massive population displacement, a government official said on Friday on national radio.
The deaths occurred in the past two weeks after landslides in Brazzaville's southwestern neighbourhood of Kinsoundi, the official said. Two of the dead were children aged six and eight.
The deputy head of Kinsoundi, Philip Kokolo, said the authorities had abandoned those affected, many of whom are without food, clothes and shelter.
The worst-hit Brazzaville neighbourhoods include Ngamakosso, Mama Mbouale and Mpila in the northeast, bordering the Congo River, which sometimes bursts its banks.
The floods have also caused the suspension of rail traffic on the route between Brazzaville and the port city of Pointe Noire in the south. The floodwaters have totally submerged the railway lines.
At least 5,000 Brazzaville residents are homeless after landslides, erosion and flooding damaged or swept away buildings. The displaced also lost most of their household property.
"The rains have made moving around town and its surroundings difficult," Tsoumou Gavouka, the director-general in the Ministry of Social Affairs, Solidarity, Humanitarian Action and Family, said. "Most roads without tarmac have become impassable."
Since mid-October, the country has been experiencing heavy rains, which meteorologists say should subside in December.
Despite the government recently adopting a national plan to deal with natural disasters, it has failed to cope with the effect of the ongoing heavy rains.