9 May 2023
The deadly mud and debris flows around Lake Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo
On Thursday 4 May 2023, intense rainfall triggered a series of deadly mud and debris flows around Lake Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). At the time of writing the number of people killed is known to be at least 401, although this might still increase. As such, this is the worst landslide disaster of 2023 to date.
The events are reported to have destroyed the villages of Bushushu and Nyamukubi, although reports also indicate that the villages of Luzira and Chabondo were impacted too. However, there is often some complexity in the determination of the names of the places affected these types of events.
Planet has captured a set of satellite images that capture the scale of the disaster. This image, dated 8 May 2023, shows multiple channelised mud and debris flows originating on the slopes above Lake Kivu. Many of the houses are built on the debris fans from previous events, and have been over-run by this disaster. The location of this site is [-2.019, 28.905].:-
Further to the north, there is another set of landslides, this time captured on slight less good imagery from 7 May 2023. The location of this landslide is [-1.966, 28.910]:-
In this case the impact on the town appears to be even greater, with a large number of houses destroyed.
The source of these flows is mostly hidden in cloud at present, but is likely to be shallow landslides.
Given the terrible landslides in Rwanda and Uganda last week, these events highlight the growing problem with landslides in parts of Africa.
Reference and acknowledgements
Planet Team (2023). Planet Application Program Interface: In Space for Life on Earth. San Francisco, CA. https://www.planet.com/
Thanks to Vishal Mishra on Twitter for highlighting the UNOSAT work.