Quake topples homes in eastern Congo

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The Independent Online

A powerful earthquake toppled homes on to children in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, killing at least two people in a region already beset by war, poverty and volcanic activity.

Dr Jean-Donne Owali said two people died yesterday from earthquake-related injuries in his clinic in Kalemie, on Lake Tanganyika, 35 miles from the epicentre. "Dozens of houses have collapsed, several children were buried by the roofs," he said.

Michel Bonnardeaux, a UN spokesman, said the number of dead and injured was not known. Anne Edgerton, another UN spokeswoman in the region, said about a dozen injuries had been reported and no deaths could be confirmed. Mr Bonnardeaux said most of the injured were struck by falling zinc and steel roofs. He added that damage was reported in Kabalo, a Congolese town 185 miles east of Kalemie along the Lukuga river. The region has camps for tens of thousands of refugees from wars and economic collapse.

The US Geological Survey gave a measurement of 6.8 on the Richter scale and located the epicentre about six miles below the surface of Lake Tanganyika, between Congo and Tanzania.

In Tanzania, the Kigoma regional commissioner said authorities were waiting for police stations in remote areas to investigate and report casualties. Kigoma was 90 miles from the epicentre.

Jacques Derieux, head of the geological survey inGoma, Congo, 298 miles north of Kalemie, said the quake was not linked to volcanic activity. "It's a normal tectonic earthquake out of the Rift Valley," he said. The Great Rift Valley runs for 3,000 miles from Syria to Mozambique. Goma's Nyiragongo volcano last erupted on 18 January 2002. AP