At least 50 dead, 100 burned in Congo tanker truck fire

By the Associated Press

At least 50 people were killed on Saturday and more than 100 had second-degree burns when a tanker truck in Congo collided with a bus and, as villagers rushed to collect the leaking fuel, caught fire, witnesses and officials said.

“We deplore the deaths,” the interim governor of Kongo-Central province, Atu Matubuana, told The Associated Press. Officials were preparing to identify the charred bodies and bury them, Matubuana said.

The accident occurred in the village of Mbuba, not far from Kisantu city and about 200 kilometers (124 miles) southwest of the capital, Kinshasa. Kisantu is on the main highway between the capital and the country’s Matadi seaport.

Photos posted online by a local journalist show some of the injured, their skin raw from burns, piled into the back of a pickup truck and squeezed between people on a motorbike.

Health officials have been instructed to prepare local hospitals to “do everything necessary” to treat all of the victims, the interim governor said.

The U.N. peacekeeping mission in Congo said it had offered the government assistance for the injured, with nine ambulances en route to Kisantu to help with medical evacuations.

In 2010, more than 200 people were killed when a tanker truck overturned and burned in Congo’s South Kivu province. Many of the victims had been trying to collect the leaking fuel when it caught fire.