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Published On: Wed, Nov 26th, 2014

Zimbabwean drivers burnt in Kasumbalesa border fire

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Four people were killed and ten were injured in a huge fire that occurred Monday night on the border between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia, according to a report obtained Tuesday from official and hospital sources.

The tragedy occurred at customs parking in the Congolese border town of Kasumbalesa about 90 km south of Lubumbashi, Congo’s second largest city and capital of the mining province of Katanga.

Guibert Paul Yav Tshibal, the deputy governor of the province, told journalists that the toll was two dead and twelve injured, adding that 48 vehicles were burned.

According to hospital sources, two of the wounded, who had been admitted in a desperate state in Lubumbashi, died later after the announcement of the deputy governor.

The dead include a Zambian, two Zimbabweans and a Tanzanian, according to a security source.

Earlier reports on Monday by a local official indicated that two people were killed and 10 burned, including seven very seriously.

The fire broke out Monday at 17:00 (1500 GMT) at about fifteen kilometers from the border in the parking lot of a building of the Directorate General of Customs and Excise (LDB), where road users pay for a pre-tax before heading for Lubumbashi. According to preliminary results of the survey presented by Mr. Yav, the conflagration was caused by a collision between two trucks, which led to a leak from the tank of one of the two filled with gasoline vehicles: the fuel then caught fire due to contact with wood stoves used by other drivers in a nearby kitchen. Hundreds of trucks pass Kasumbalesa daily, the only official crossing point for the output of ore from the mines in Katanga and the supply of Lubumbashi of region products including goods from all over southern Africa. Despite the continued fire, on Tuesday activity at the post of the LDB was back to normal, as the traffic between the border and Lubumbashi piled. Said Hillaly, manager of the parking lot, said that a number of the 271 trucks parked on Monday on the nearly 2 square miles had escaped the fire.

Due to more than 100 trucks being affected, the damage will certainly amount to several million dollars, he said, adding that the damage would be compensated by the insurance of parking lot. Around 9:00 p.m. (1900 GMT), said Mr. Hillaly, firefighters continued to fight against the fire.

In the afternoon, nine trucks containing flammable material were still smoldering, according to an AFP journalist.THEPOST

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