Fuel Truck Explosion in Eastern Congo Kills About 230, United Nations Says

A fuel truck explosion in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo yesterday killed 230 people and injured 196, the United Nations mission in Congo said.

Casualties continue to mount as the UN and local officials investigate the aftermath of the explosion, UN spokesman, Madnodje Mounoubai, said by phone in Kinshasa.

“The truck was moving and it had an accident,” Olamide Adedeji, acting director for public information for the United Nations Mission in Congo, said by phone from Kinshasa earlier in the day. “People in the nearby village were trying to take some fuel from the vehicle and while they were doing that it exploded,” she said.

The explosion occurred in the village of Sange in South Kivu province at about 6 p.m., setting homes on fire, Adedeji said. The UN has sent a helicopter and ambulances to evacuate the wounded, the organization said in an e-mailed statement.

Red Cross volunteers have been helping to bury bodies and transport the wounded since this morning, Inah Kaloga, a spokeswoman for the International Committee of the Red Cross, said by phone from Kinshasa.

A UN helicopter transported 33 seriously wounded victims by helicopter to Bukavu, the provincial capital, over the course of the day, Kaloga said. More medical evacuations are expected tomorrow. Eight people have already been brought to nearby Uvira hospital by the ICRC, she said.

At least 208 people were killed immediately by the blast, Kaloga said.

Congo is still recovering from almost a decade of war that officially ended in 2003 and claimed the lives of millions. Conflict continues in the country’s east, and UN-supported military operations against Rwandan and Congolese rebel groups are continuing in South Kivu.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael Kavanagh in Johannesburg at mkavanagh9@bloomberg.net

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