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In eastern DRC, 19 die of Ebola in five days

The deadly Ebola outbreak that has ravaged the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo for almost four months has claimed another 19 lives in just five days, the health ministry said.

The outbreak, which began on August 1, has now killed 241 people, the ministry said in a statement late in Tuesday.

"There have been 241 deaths," the ministry said in a update correct to November 26, indicating that there were a total of 421 cases – 374 of them confirmed, and another 47 probable.

Another 74 suspected cases are under investigation.

The outbreak is the tenth in the DRC since Ebola was first detected there in 1976.

The crisis is centered around the rugby eastern city of Beni in North Kivu, a region which has been blighted by a gun battle that has hampered efforts to curb the outbreak.

Ebola is a serious infectious disease that can spread rapidly through small amounts of bodily fluid, causing internal bleeding and potentially death.

The DRC is in the process of choosing a successor to President Joseph Kabila, who has ruled the vast Central African country since 2001.

Since winning independence from Belgium in 1960, this poverty-stricken nation has never known a peaceful transition of power.

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