South Kivu – At least 50 people were killed and more than 100 were badly burned when a tanker truck in Congo collided with another truck and, as villagers rushed to collect the leaking fuel, burst into flames, witnesses and officials said.
Faced with one of the country’s deadliest traffic accidents, President Joseph Kabila ordered three days of national mourning “in this particularly painful moment for the Congolese people.”
The accident occurred overnight in the village of Mbuba, not far from Kisantu city and about 200 kilometers (124 miles) southwest of the capital, Kinshasa. The city is on the main highway between the capital and the country’s Matadi seaport.
The fire quickly spread to nearby homes, Congo’s health ministry said in a statement. An investigation was under way into the cause of the accident.
A photo tweeted by the ministry showed the blackened tanker, its front bumper torn aside and its windshield missing.
“The driver of the tanker truck has disappeared while the driver of the tractor trailer died at the scene,” the ministry said. Twenty charred bodies had been recovered, and four other people died after arriving at a hospital.
“The toll continues to evolve,” the statement said.