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Torrential rains devastate Uvira town

KINSHASA, 9 Feb 2005 (IRIN) - A deluge on Monday night left eight people dead and many more missing in and around the town Uvira in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

"We are still searching in the rubble for survivors," Didas Kaningini Kyoto, the deputy governor of the province of South Kivu, told IRIN.

The water was reportedly as high as 80cm in Kasenda, a suburb of Uvira. At least 300 houses were destroyed.

"The damage was caused by sand and rocks sliding off the Mitumba Mountains," Kaningini said. The mountain range rises around Uvira, blocking water from draining away.

Kaningani said heavy rains had been falling since January in Uvira and in rural areas around the town.

The South Kivu representative of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Jean-Marc Cordaro, said aid organisations needed to respond rapidly.

"Roads and other infrastructure were already damaged by the early rains," Cordaro said. "Since Monday the situation has become worse."

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