The overturned tanker explosion in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has left at least 230 people dead and over 196 injured. The village in Sange has had no choice but to bury the victims in two mass graves. The Red Cross was helping search for and remove the bodies. The streets have become a make-shift morgue due to the large number of casualties.
Jean-Claude Kibala, South Kivu’s vice governor, said the village is in “terrible shape”. “There are lots of dead bodies on the streets. The population is in terrible shock – no one is crying or speaking”, he said.
According to witnesses the tanker was trying to overtake a bus on the road when it overturned. The roads in this area are not very well constructed due to the neglect and years of the area being in a war zone. When the tanker overturned it began to leak petrol. Not very long after the wreck people began to gather around the tanker and tried to steal the leaking fuel. Apparently peacekeepers urged the villagers to leave the tanker area but they refused and continued to try and gather the leaking fuel.
An explosion occurred engulfing the area in flames and trapping people in thatch and earth constructed buildings nearby. Peacekeepers helped evacuate some of the injured to hospitals in other nearby towns and this left the small hospitals filled to capacity caring for the severely burned victims.
Congolese troops have been sent to the Sange village to assist the survivors. Red Cross officials reported that at least 61 children were among the dead. They have built make shift clinics to help treat the injured. They warned that the death toll may rise since so many of the injured are seriously burned.
The UN’s special representative to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lelia Zerrougui said the UN would “do everything possible to help authorities and assist victims”.