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Scores of children killed in Congo tanker blast

Children and women were among the 235 killed when fire ripped through a town in Congo. It started late on Friday when a fuel tanker toppled over in the town of Sange and the gushing fuel the caught fire, setting alight dozens of earth and straw homes. More than a quarter of the victims were children who had rushed to scoop up leaking oil after the crash. Others killed had crammed in to local cinemas to watch the World Cup match between Holland and Brazil.  Most of the victims, including about 60 children and 30 women, were lowered into three mass graves on Saturday.

Yesterday, hundreds more were still being treated for burns in makeshift hospitals. The lorry driver was taken to hospital before being arrested. The tanker he was driving was hauling fuel from the provincial capital, Bukavu, when it overturned while it tried to overtake a minibus in Sange, near the Burundi border. Lying on its side, the wrecked lorry started spewing petrol next to a local market and three flimsy television halls, or cinemas, made of brick and wood, where hundreds of people were watching the match. The leaking fuel was ignited by a cigarette from a man who was trying to salvage some of the fuel in a tin can, said Mende Omalanga, the minister of communications.

In the conflict-dogged corner of one of the world’s most unstable countries, the accident was a harsh blow for residents who survived back-to-back back wars from 1996 to 2002. Muke Ndengwa, whose 15-year-old son was nearly killed in by the explosion said: “It’s a miserable, poor life we have here in Congo. When we had the war here, we had everything stolen from us. Now we have lost so much again,” M Ndengwa told Associated Press. Jackson Ndengwa, 15, was inside one of the cinemas, watching the game when the blast went off. “The hall was full of people,” he said speaking from his hospital bed in a nearby town. “We never expected that there could be a fire like this.  “There were people with petrol on their clothes and skin and they started catching fire,” said Ndengwa. “As we were so close together I got burned, too.”Ndengwa eventually escaped through a window, but was seriously burnt on his legs and stomach. "People are suffering terribly," Namweze Bahizire, a nurse in an intensive care ward said on Sunday. "Yesterday we lost two men and a woman a few hours after surgery and during the night we lost another male victim."

Hayley attribution