Twelve people are dead and 4,500 people have fallen sick in southern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) following a toxic leak from the Catoca diamond mine in neighbouring Angola in July, the DRC’s environment minister said Thursday.
Eve Bazaiba, the minister said shortly after a visit to Kasai province, where the Tshikapa River turned red and many fish died, that the DRC would ask for reparations for the damage caused but could not yet say how much it would request.
She said the DRC will seek reparations in line with the “polluter pays” principle, Bazaiba said, but did not specify how exactly the 12 people died.
Kasai provincial Governor Dieudonne Pieme banned people from drinking water and eating fish from the Tshikapa River after the spill, which he said significantly depleted the river’s fish population.
Sociedade Mineira de Catoca, which manages the mine that produces 75 per cent of Angola’s diamonds, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the deaths, the Reuters news agency reported.
The company previously said it immediately took measures to minimise the flow of sediment into rivers and that it donated food baskets to affected communities to mitigate the impact of the spill.