The Heat Is Online

Congo Battered By Intense Storm

Deadly storm kills 164 people in Congo, Feb. 7, 2003

KINSHASA - A vicious storm killed 164 people and flattened thousands of homes in the west of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the central African country's health minister said.

Mashako Mamba told Reuters that high winds and rain wiped out more than seven villages last Sunday in Bandundu province, 300 km (185 miles) up the mighty Congo river from the capital Kinshasa.

"This terrible destruction was caused when a tornado struck the villages at 11 p.m. on the night of February 2," the minister said.

The U.N. Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that as of Wednesday morning, 1,702 people were known to be injured, with 217 requiring urgent help for wounds caused by falling trees and collapsing houses and schools,

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

Congo's national weather station has forecast this season's rains will be the heaviest in a decade and that floods are likely along the lower reaches of the Congo river.