DR Congo Oil Tanker Blaze 'Kills 270'

At least 270 people are feared dead after an oil tanker exploded and set fire to parts of a village in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

At least 270 people are feared dead after an oil tanker exploded and set fire to parts of a village in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The truck, travelling from Tanzania, overturned in the village of Sange near the country's eastern border.

The fuel oil spread through the village before exploding, AFP news agency said.

Scores more people are believed injured. The UN has corrected its earlier report that five peacekeepers had died and now says none were killed.

Accidents involving tankers which catch fire are not uncommon in the region, and the death toll is often high because people try to collect spilled fuel.

Vincent Kabanga, spokesman for the South Kivu regional government, said: "A tanker truck coming from Tanzania overturned in the village of Sange.

"There was a crush [of people] and a petrol leak, there was an explosion of fuel oil which spread through the village."

The village is about 70km (40 miles) south of the town of Bukavu in South Kivu, close to the border with Burundi.

'Excessive speed'

James Reynolds of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said there were "at least" 270 dead and added that the toll "was likely to rise".

More than 100 people were injured, he added.

The ICRC is taking medicine and body bags to the village, and preparing to fly the wounded to hospital by helicopter.

Mr Reynolds, deputy head of the ICRC delegation in the area, said: "It is a small village. When the truck turned over a lot of people gathered round. It then caught fire and spread through the village."

Dozens of homes, many built from earth and straw, were engulfed in the night-time fire.

It was unclear whether the truck exploded when it crashed or whether the blaze was started later.

Marcellin Cisambo, governor of South Kivu, told Reuters: "Some people were killed trying to steal the fuel, but most of the deaths were of people who were indoors watching the [World Cup] match.

A police officer based in Bukavu said the accident had been caused by the lorry's "excessive speed".

The officer, who did not give his name, said that many of the villagers who surrounded the vehicle before it exploded were children.

The village, which is home to many Congolese soldiers and their families, was "in total mourning", the officer added.

 

source: bbc