February 6, 2008
At least 42 people have died in Rwanda’s Western Province and in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) city of Bukavu, following a powerful series of earthquakes registering 6.0 and 5.0 on the Richter scale. The quake hit the border area between the two countries on Sunday, February 3.
Action by Churches Together (ACT) International members in the eastern part of the DRC, reported that at least 250 people were severely injured in Bukavu, with the majority injuries having occurred when a church they were praying in collapsed. In Rwanda, 500 people were seriously injured in Nyamaseke, a city neighbouring Bukavu.
Based on the preliminary assessment in the affected areas in the DRC, about 1,500 residential and public buildings including 15 schools were destroyed by the earthquake. Due to a fear of aftershocks, people whose houses developed cracks have been advised to stay out of their homes for the next few days.
The situation in DRC is beyond the local organizations’ capacity to respond and representatives from the national government have pledged some assistance. In Kivu, for instance, the national Members of Parliament are collecting relief funds. The World Health Organisation (WHO) is providing medical assistance to those injured, and families are sharing the little they have with those affected by the quake.
Local ACT members plan to assist those left homeless and those who have been injured — in particular children, the elderly and pregnant and lactating women. They are also working on submitting a request for US $50,000 from the ACT Rapid Response Fund (RRF) to assist those affected by the quake in Bukavu and its surrounding areas. The forum members plan to provide plastic sheets, clothing, blankets, mattresses and iron roofs with the rapid response funds and are considering submitting a proposal of response for an ACT appeal.