Sunday, July 04, 2010

Hundreds Die in Democratic Republic of Congo Fuel Tanker Explosion

Sunday, July 04, 2010
07:35 Mecca time, 04:35 GMT

Hundreds die in DRC tanker fire

Tragedy strikes small village in eastern DR Congo when fuel tanker overturns and explodes

At least 220 people have been killed after a lorry carrying fuel overturned on a highway and leaked oil that triggered an explosion in a village in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, officials say.

As many residents of Sange crowded around the overturned vehicle on Friday, fire rapidly engulfed homes and cinemas packed with people watching a World Cup football match.

Among the dead were 61 children and 36 women, the office of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in South-Kivu province said.

Officials said the explosion injured 196 people in addition to inflicting deaths and material damage.

Among the dead were villagers who had surrounded the lorry to siphon off fuel from the wreckage, apparently unaware of the danger, according to officials of the UN Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the DRC, known as Monusco.

Stealing petrol

As oil began leaking from the damaged tanker, Pakistani peacekeepers from a nearby Monusco base "came and told people to get away from the area, but people refused to leave", Bedide Mwasha, a 45-year-old resident, said.
Africa's fuel curse

2006: A pipeline expodes near Lagos in Nigeria when it is opened to steal fuel, killing 284 people.

2006: A pipeline blast kills up to 200 people at Ilado Beach, a village near Lagos, Nigeria.

2000: A tanker bursts into flames on crashing in Nigeria, killing 200 people.

1998: More than 1,000 people die in an explosion near Warri in Nigeria when a pipeline valve is opened to steal fuel.

1998: Up to 220 people die and 63 are injured when two wagons explode following a train derailment in Cameroon's commercial capital, Yaounde.
"Men, women and children, even [government] soldiers were stealing petrol."

The fuel tanker overturned as it was trying to pass a minibus near Sange, Mana Lungwe, a manager of the Congolese oil company that owned the vehicle, said.

The tanker began gushing oil and, an hour later, burst into flames, Lungwe said.

"It is a large area of devastation. A [cinema] was crammed with people watching a World Cup match. The whole thing is now completely destroyed," Al Jazeera's Malcolm Webb, reporting from Sange, said.

"Behind it, another cinema and a couple of houses have been completely burnt to ashes."

"I am now two kilometres up the road from the scene where the UN and local Red Cross brought a lot of the bodies and are now burying them in mass graves."

The explosion claimed the lives of 208 people immediately, while 11 others died from burn wounds after they were taken to nearby medical facilities, James Reynolds, the deputy head of the ICRC in DR Congo, said.

He said alongside local volunteers of the organisation, the ICRC has dispatched medical supplies and body bags to collect the dead and help the wounded.

"We're doing our best to ensure that the wounded are treated as well as possible,'' he said.

UN peacekeepers helped evacuate more than 200 wounded people from the scene by helicopter and ambulance.

Medical care

Madnodge Mounoubai, a Monusco spokesperson, told Al Jazeera that about 35 of those were air-lifted to Bukavu, the provincial capital, for treatment.

Survivors "in the village need water, food and maybe psychological assistance", he said.

"Bukavu is about 100 kilometres from Sange while Uvira is about 33 kilometres.

"But in either place we don't have any special hospital to treat the injured.

"We are trying to get the best possible medical care that we can, but unfortunately there is no special unit for burned people."

Monusco initially said that five peacekeepers were killed in the blaze, but later said there were no deaths.

Sange is located about 20-30km north of Uvira, a town on the northern tip of Lake Tanganyika, near the border with Burundi.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

Fuel tanker explosion kills 200 in Congo

Kinshasha - 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

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

"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. - Reuters

Published on the Web by IOL on 2010-07-03 12:11:58

DR Congo fuel truck victims buried in mass graves

Saturday, 3 July 2010 22:31 UK

Teams have been taking bodies to mass graves outside the devastated village The bodies of some of the scores of people killed in a fuel truck explosion in the Democratic Republic of Congo have been buried in mass graves.

At least 230 people were killed when the overturned oil tanker exploded and sparked a fire in Sange village.

Some of those who died were trying to collect leaking fuel but others were trapped inside buildings, including a cinema, by the blaze.

UN peacekeepers, aid workers and troops have been helping the injured.

The truck overturned in the village of Sange

As Saturday wore on, Red Cross teams carried bodies wrapped in plastic sheeting to two mass graves outside the village, the Associated Press reports.

Jean-Claude Kibala, South Kivu's vice-governor, said scenes in the village were "terrible".

"There are lots of dead bodies on the streets. The population is in terrible shock - no-one is crying or speaking," he said.

'Warning ignored'

The accident happened late on Friday in Sange, about 70km (40 miles) south of the town of Bukavu in South Kivu, near the border with Burundi.

October 2009: At least 70 people burnt to death when tanker explodes in Anambra state, Nigeria, setting fire to minibuses
November 2008: Tanker overturns and explodes in Ghana, killing at least 22 as people scoop up fuel
August 2008: Similar incident kills dozens of villagers in explosion in northern Cameroon
January 2008: Dozens of people reported dead as tanker explodes near Port Harcourt, Nigeria
March 2007: Up to 100 dead in blast after trying to collect fuel from broken-down tanker in Nigeria's Kaduna State

The truck, travelling from Tanzania, overturned and began leaking fuel.

"Petrol began to leak out but instead of fleeing people came to collect the fuel," Tondo Sahizira, 28, told AFP news agency.

"A few minutes later there was an explosion, flames burst from the truck and spread very quickly."

Bedide Mwasha said that five Pakistani peacekeepers had urged people to leave the area "but people refused to leave".

"Men, women and children, even [government] soldiers were stealing petrol," the 45-year-old Sange resident said.

Several homes with thatched roofs were engulfed in flames, as was a cinema where a crowd had gathered to watch the World Cup.

"My children were watching the football match in the cinema and then they ran out to see the petrol," Kiza Ruvinira told Reuters news agency.

"I went out to see what happened and I found my three children's bodies myself. I don't know how to go on."

Madnodje Mounoubai, a spokesman for the UN peacekeeping mission, said the latest death toll was 230, with another 196 people injured.

The Red Cross said that at least 61 children and 36 women were among the dead.

Peacekeepers helped evacuate dozens of the injured to hospitals in towns of Bukavu and Uvira. Congolese troops have also been sent to Sange help survivors.

The UN's acting special representative to Congo, Leila Zerrougui, said the UN would "do everything possible to help authorities and assist victims".

1 comment:

芸茂 said...