DR Congo: priest describes tank explosion as 'an apocalyptic scene'

Around 300 people are feared dead after a massive explosion  took place  on Saturday, involving an oil tanker in the village of Sange about 70 km south of Bukavu  capital of South Kivu in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

Xaverian missionary Sister Teresina Caffi, told local radio:  "According to information we have gathered, a convoy of five tanker trucks was crossing the center of the village when one of them capsized. The crowd rushed to collect fuel, a bit as occurs in Nigeria. Suddenly a spark, possibly caused by a cigarette butt, caused the explosion."

"There is a busy marketplace in downtown Sange, thus it is feared that the victim count will be very high," says Sister Teresina.

According to local authorities, dozens of homes built on earth and straw, were destroyed.

Fr Paul, the parish priest of Luvungi said: "It's an apocalyptic scene; burned bodies are strewn about the main street of Sange. The dead are definitely more than 200 and dozens of houses have been destroyed."
"Among the dead were five soldiers of the United Nations Mission in Congo (MONUC), who had come to try to extinguish the fire but were overcome by the flames. The local authorities, including the Deputy Governor, the UN military, and the Red Cross, arrived on the scene. However, more time is still needed to thoroughly analyze the dimension of the tragedy," the priest concluded.

North and South Kivu are two of the most unstable areas of Congo due to the presence of numerous armed groups that have been fighting for a long time, hindering the social and economic development of the civilian population which is forced to live in poverty and insecurity.
Source: Fides

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