200 dead after DR Congo tanker truck explosion - Red Cross

KINSHASA, July 3, 2010 (AFP) - At least 200 people died and dozens were injured when a tanker truck filled with oil exploded and set fire to a village in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the Red Cross said Saturday.

"So far, the accident has left 200 dead. It is a provisional toll. We have people on the spot and the search (for victims) is continuing," the Red Cross official in charge of Sud-Kivu province, Leonard Zigade told AFP.

AFP – A map locating the town of Bukavu in eastern DR. Congo.

Earlier local officials said at least 100 people had been killed, while a security source in the United Nations mission in DR Congo (MONUC) gave a toll of "223 dead and 110 injured."

"What is certain is that the toll will get higher. It seems that what happened was truly horrible," the source said on condition of anonymity, adding that the search was still going on "for more charred bodies."

The accident happened late Friday.

"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," regional government spokesman Vincent Kabanga told AFP.

The village is located around 70 kilometres (40 miles) south of the Sud-Kivu county town of Bukavu, close to the border with Burundi.

Dozens of mostly earth and straw constructed homes in Sange were engulfed in the blaze after the accident, which a police officer based in Bukavu said had been caused by the truck's "excessive speed."

The officer, who asked not to be named, added that many of those who surrounded the vehicle before it exploded were children.

He said the village was now "in total mourning."

MONUC has made available three helicopters to evacuate villages and has alerted hospitals at Uvira and Bukavu, a source in the mission told AFP.

Other news