At least 39 people died in flooding on Tuesday in Kinshasa, the capital of Democratic Republic of Congo, following torrential rains overnight that caused landslides near the University of Kinshasa, authorities said.

At one site on University Avenue, in a southern suburb, at least three houses and a road collapsed into a ravine.

Chunks of concrete and metal roofing could be seen sticking out of the freshly turned orange earth, a witness said.

The vice governor of Kinshasa province, Neron Mbungu, said rescue workers were continuing to hunt for bodies.

“Wherever we found death, we gave the mayors the means to bring the bodies to the morgue, and we also made available the means for the wounded to be taken to medical centres,” he said.

One woman wailed and clapped her hands as Red Cross rescue workers carried several bodies to an ambulance.

“My son, my son,” she cried.

A road surface swept away by a landslide caused by torrential overnight rains is photographed in the Lemba district of Kinshasa, on November 26, 2019.

People gather to inspect a swept away road in the Lemba district of Kinshasa. Photo: AFP

Andre Mwamba, whose house had partially collapsed into the ravine on University Avenue, said the heavy rain started at 2am (local time) and lasted four hours.

“We started moving things out of the house at around six and then the house started sliding. The neighbours agreed to let us stay with them while we look for another place,” Mwamba said.

Floods are not unusual in Kinshasa, a city of almost 12 million people with notoriously poor infrastructure and where many neighbourhoods are poorly planned, though they rarely cause so many deaths.

– Reuters