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Freight truck crashes killing 34 in DR Congo

Freight truck crashes killing 34 in DR Congo

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Thirty-four people, including children, died when a freight truck driven by a drunk driver overturned on a hill in the Democratic Republic of Congo, an official said Wednesday.

The truck, carrying 93 passengers, was driving up a hill when it slowed and turned over on Monday evening, killing 33 people instantly. One person later died in hospital.

There were 16 minors among the dead, said Celestine Lundanda Panga, a local official in Lubudi city in Lualaba province, where the accident took place.

She said 37 others were injured, while 22 more escaped unhurt, including the driver.

"He had bottles of strong alcohol in the cab (of the truck). I ordered his arrest," Lundanda said, blaming the crash on drunk driving and poor road conditions.

The freight truck was also carrying a minibus and cargo when it overturned around 6:30 pm, creating scenes of carnage, according to one survivor.

"I heard a boom... then the truck overturned, me and my four-year-old son were on top, sitting on the goods, we were thrown with other travellers," Kabena Mwambuyu told AFP from a hospital in Lubudi.

"My child has a fracture in the right arm and I have so much pain in my hip. I saw a lot of dead and wounded", Mwambuyu added, saying the vehicle was moving "very fast".

The truck departed from Mbuji-Mayi in the central province of Kasai-Oriental and was heading towards Kolwezi, the capital of Lualaba.

Road accidents are frequent in the Democratic Republic of Congo, often caused by ignoring traffic rules, with old vehicles not subjected to technical inspections.

The vast majority of roads in the country are just dirt tracks and drivers are often poorly trained or drunk.

The provincial minister of Lualaba, Deodat Kapenda, promised this week to "take tough action against truck and train drivers who are at the root of repeated fatal accidents in (the) province".