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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - KINSHASA — Floods have wreaked chaos in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, with water pouring into homes and residents navigating submerged roads via canoe.
The overflowing River Congo, passing through much of the country, has also swamped places outside the capital.
The vast, vital waterway has reached its highest level in six decades.
More than 300 people have died in floods over the past months, officials say.
On Thursday, residents in the impoverished megacity of Kinshasa told the BBC how "schools, hospitals and churches" have been washed away.
"I had lived here with my relatives... I have lost everything," Jonas Mungindami said.
Similarly, Denise Tuzola said her house is now "full of water".
"There is no church here anymore and there is no way for the children to go to school," she added.
Kinshasa is home to several small rivers and streams, which often double as open sewers. Many have now overflown.
On one flooded street, a man waded through through thigh-level water, hauling a canoe full of passengers behind him. Trucks drove cautiously through the same waters, while dozens of discarded bottles bob on the surface.
The RVF, the agency overseeing DR Congo's waterways, sounded the alarm in late December.
It warned that heavy rains would cause "exceptional flooding" around the Kinshasa area.
By this point, provinces such as Mongala and Ituri had already faced serious flooding.
In Kinshasa, flooding is common but this year the Congo River has risen just shy of 6.26 meters, the level reached during record flooding in 1961.
Further upstream, in the city of Kisangani, the mayor said that over 200 houses have been submerged.
The Congo River has also caused turmoil in Congo-Brazzaville, a nation that borders DR Congo.
Flooding there has impacted more than 336,000 people and 34 health facilities, the World Health Organization said on Thursday.
Many factors contribute to flooding, but a warming atmosphere caused by climate change makes extreme rainfall more likely.
Just over a year ago, floods in Kinshasa left more than 120 people dead. — BBC
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