The United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is preparing to assist local authorities help people in the far east of the impoverished country after a major earthquake struck the region this morning.
Alan Doss, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative to the DRC and the chief of the mission, known as MONUC, has immediately asked the mission and other UN agencies operating in the region “to extend all necessary assistance” to authorities and the affected local population, according to a statement issued in Kinshasa, the capital.
The mission said the initial assessments indicated that the earthquake has caused “a number of deaths and injured” but that an exact toll is yet to be determined. Buildings have been damaged in the DRC and in neighbouring Rwanda and Burundi.
A daily worker at the MONUC office in Bukavu, the provincial capital of South Kivu in the eastern DRC, has been reported killed, but so far no other UN civilian or military personnel is known to have died.
Media reports say a second serious quake struck several hours later in Rwanda, causing further death and destruction.
Mr. Doss offered his condolences to the populations of all the areas in Africa’s Great Lakes region who have been affected by the earthquake.
MONUC said the epicentre of this morning’s quake, which registered 6.0 on the Richter scale, was located in Kabaré, about 20 kilometres north of Bukavu. It struck about 9:35 local time.