They described scenes of devastation in the town of Sange, where houses were burned and bodies littered the streets. Some people died while trying to steal fuel leaking from the tanker, but most were killed at home or watching World Cup soccer in cinemas.
Many of the bodies were charred beyond recognition.
United Nations helicopters began airlifting injured people to hospital, while Congo's army, which lost a number of men in the blast, has sent soldiers in to help with the rescue.
"Our latest numbers are 230 dead and 196 injured," Madnodje Mounoubai, a spokesman for the U.N. mission, said. Congo's government also gave the same number of dead.
Marcellin Cisambo, governor of South Kivu province, where the incident took place, said the blast occurred when the fuel truck overturned, leaked fuel and then later exploded.
It was not immediately clear what caused the initial accident or later blast, but local people said the truck, which was part of a convoy, stopped when the road seemed to crumble, toppling the vehicle and spilling fuel. Fire then erupted.
Saturday, July 03, 2010
230 killed in oil tanker spill in Congo.