Six children killed in fire at DR Congo camp for mudslide victims

The blaze erupted in the afternoon in a camp hosting people displaced because of flooding, regional official says.

At least six children have been killed in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo after a fire broke out at a camp for people displaced by flooding.

The camp in the town of Kalehe has been home to about 420 families from Bushushu, a village on Lake Kivu near the eastern border with Rwanda. The village was hammered by fierce rain and landslides that killed at least 400 people in May.

The blaze erupted on Saturday afternoon and killed several children – “two small boys and four small girls, aged one to five years old”, said Thomas Bakenga, administrator for the Kalehe region.

He said four adults had been hospitalised for burns.

“The fire started in a hut in the middle of the site where a child was cooking while the parents weren’t there,” he said.

About 360 huts of plastic tarps with thatched roofs were destroyed in the blaze, he noted.

“We tried to save them, but it was hopeless,” Bakenga said. “The fire destroyed everything.”

The number of victims and homes lost was confirmed by the head of a local civic group, Delphin Birimbi, who urged the government and NGOs “to come and help these disaster victims”.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimated that approximately 3,000 families had been left homeless after the flooding and mudslides in eastern DRC, a region already plagued by armed groups fighting against the central government.

Source: AFP