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Fuel explosion in Congo kills 200
Kinshasa, Jul 3 (Agencies):
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Published on 3 Jul. 2010 11:02 PM IST
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More than 200 people were killed and 100 injured when a fuel tanker overturned and exploded in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo late on Friday, a local Governor said on Saturday.
Some died while trying to collect fuel leaking from the tanker, but authorities said most were killed by the fire that tore through nearby houses after the vehicle exploded. United Nations helicopters began airlifting injured people to hospital.
“There was an accident when a truck overturned and petrol started coming out on all sides ... More than 200 people have died so far and about a hundred are injured seriously burned,” said Marcellin Cisambo, governor of South Kivu province where the accident took place. It was not immediately clear what caused the accident, which took place in Sange, on the road between the provincial capital Bukavu and Uvira, a town to the south on the border with Burundi.
Roads in the area are notoriously bad after years of war and neglect in the vast central African nation. “It’s a terrible scene. There are lots of dead bodies on the streets. The population is in terrible shock no one is crying or speaking,” Jean-Claude Kibala, South Kivu’s vice governor, told Reuters by telephone from Sange.
“We are trying to see how we can coordinate with (the UN) to manage the situation and how to take the wounded to hospital,” he added. Witnesses said the explosion started a fire that tore through houses near the road. “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,” Cisambo said.
Millions of football fans across Africa were watching Ghana, the continent’s last team in the World Cup, play Uruguay in the quarterfinals of the tournament on Friday evening. Congo’s weak government has difficulty providing even the most basic services, so UN peacekeepers began airlifting some of the wounded to nearby hospitals and aid workers were called in to help with medical treatment. “The national Red Cross is working on collecting the bodies and taking them to the morgue, but the priority is obviously to take the wounded to the hospital,” ICRC coordinator Inah Kaloga told Reuters.”
Five UN peacekeepers were feared dead in the incident, but a spokeswoman on Saturday corrected an earlier statement, saying none of the mission’s soldiers had been killed.

 
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