"The provisional toll after torrential rain hit the villages of Bihambwe and Matanda in Masisi Territory is 12 dead, 18 injured and 92 missing," said Julien Paluku, governor of Nord Kivu province, where the villages are located.

The rain started on Tuesday, causing a river to flood, local residents told AFP.

"The rain began in the afternoon, forcing those coming back from the fields to take shelter in homes near the river. The flooding caught them by surprise," said Joseph Ndabita, a resident of Bihambwe.

He told AFP he had counted "10 bodies and (seen) others being swept away by the strong current towards the river."

"The water which came down from the mountains has caused damage," said Safari Ayobangira, a local MP, who said searches were underway to find the missing.

Most of the victims were farmers whose fields bordered the Bihambwe river which passes the two villages that lie about 50km northwest of Goma, the regional capital.

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