International news sources reported that a fuel truck overturned July 2 in the Eastern Congo town of Sange, South Kivu Province. The fuel spilled and caught fire, causing a major explosion. About 250 people were killed and over 300 hospitalized with serious injuries.
According to Mennonite pastor Charles Mbuyi of the provincial capital city of Bukavu, 51 of the dead and another 50 injured were from the Mennonite Brethren congregation in Sange. The Mennonite Brethren church in Eastern Congo is collecting contributions locally to assist the victims, and outside assistance is also being organized.
Congo’s Protestant church umbrella, the Église du Christ au Congo (ECC, translated Church of Christ of Congo), reported that UN agencies, the Congo Red Cross, and the International Committee of the Red Cross all responded quickly with the evacuation of the injured. It also noted that 20 homes were destroyed in the fire, numerous children have lost both parents, and many survivors are suffering from psychological trauma.
Tim Lind, Mennonite World Conference staff and Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) representative in the Congo, is communicating with Mennonite and ECC leaders in Bukavu to determine which needs are unmet. MCC then will evaluate how best to respond to those needs.
The ECC, MCC’s primary partner for its work in the Congo, includes the three Mennonite denominations in the Congo, all members of the Mennonite World Conference.
From reports from Tim Lind, MWC Church-to-Church Relations Coordinator. Lind and his wife, Suzanne, also serve as MCC representatives in Congo and are based in Kinshasa.