DR Congo

DR Congo cuts death toll to 17 in freak storm

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KINSHASA, Feb 8 (Reuters) - The Democratic Republic of Congo said on Saturday 17 people were killed in a freak storm this month, dramatically lowered than an earlier estimate of 164.
"Many people who we feared dead have been found, still alive, in the ruins," Health Minister Mashako Mamba said.

"Luckily, only 17 people are now believed to have been killed," he told Reuters in Kinshasa, capital of the vast, mineral-rich central African country.

Mamba said the earlier, inflated number was given because "at first, there was panic, but people have now regained their composure."

Relief workers and government doctors estimated that 2,500 people were injured, 1,700 houses were destroyed and more than 20,000 left homeless by the high winds and rain.

On Wednesday, Mamba had said collapsed buildings and fallen trees had killed 164 people during a tropical storm on the night of February 2 in Bandundu province, 300 km (185 miles) up the mighty Congo river from Kinshasa.

The Health Ministry, local and international relief groups sent doctors and supplies to the area, flying to the nearest airstrip at Yumbi, and then travelling for two hours up the Congo river by motor boat.

Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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