Death toll more than 200 in Congo landslide

Searchers have recovered more than 170 bodies from the rubble of a landslide last week in the fishing village of Tora, where the death toll is expected to be over 200.

East Congo Bishop Gabriel Unda asked for prayers for the victims and survivors in the province of Ituri, where the village is located.

"I also ask for a mobilization of the whole community as one body to assist these victims because their first refuge is us, the church,” he said.  

The bishop said the conference had committed this year to planting churches throughout the province.

The village, located more than 60 kilometers from Bunia on the shores of Lake Albert, has about 50 families. The village has an intensive fishing business due to the large amount of fish coming from the lake.

Oudo Manda, a provincial tax collector in the region of Ituri, said villagers heard unusual noises and thought they came from fishermen out on the lake at night. “Suddenly, we heard noises like gunshots, but it was actually big stones from the mountain that broke and collapsed on people’s houses and on merchants who spent the night outside,” he said.

Searchers are hampered by the difficulty of breaking up or moving the large rocks.

The Rev. Chapel Lokalé, pastor of the church in nearby Mungwalu, said two traders who are members of the church are missing and asked for a prayer for them.

Earlier this month, a mudslide in a Freetown, Sierra Leone, suburb killed nearly 500 people. 

Yanga is director of communications for the East Congo Episcopal Area. News media contact: Vicki Brown, (615) 742-470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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