President Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has declared a three-day national mourning for more than 50 people who died in a highway traffic tragedy on Saturday on a national highway in the country's western province of Kongo Central.
The president also asked for a full assistance to the victims and organizations of funerals for the dead in the accident, according to a statement of the Presidency carried by the national television RTNC.
At the site of the accident in Mbuba village, traces of the fire are still visible, and several charred vehicles remain on the main road.
Witnesses told Xinhua that the gas tanker truck from Matadi to Kinshasa tragically crashed into a parked truck, triggering the fire which quickly spread to nearby homes and vehicles and caused human casualties and material damage. Other witnesses said that the vehicle exploded when hundreds of people were around the tanker vehicle looking for gasoline that was flowing to the ground.
"The toll continues to evolve so far, especially for those who are burned to the second degree by fire. We try to do our best to evacuate the maximum possible casualties to hospitals in Kinshasa for appropriate care," said DRC Health Minister Oly Ilunga, who visited the scene.
Apart from local and national authorities, the UN Stabilization Mission in the DRC has also deployed several ambulances to evacuate the seriously wounded to the Congolese hospital in Kinshasa.
Kabila has called for an immediate investigation of the incident.
Several similar incidents have already been reported across the country in the past years. In 2010, a tanker truck overturned in South Kivu province, killing around 200 people.