Power cable snaps after lightning strike in Democratic Republic of Congo, killing 26

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Power cable snaps after lightning strike in Democratic Republic of Congo, killing 26

Dozens of people died in The Democratic Republic of Congo Wednesday after a bolt of lightning struck a power cable, causing it to snap and fall on houses and a market.

The tragedy happened just outside of Kinshasa, Africa’s most populated city. Twenty-six people died, and all but two of the victims were women, authorities said. Two others were seriously injured.

The incident was not unusual in the Congolese capital, which is plagued by outdated infrastructure and home to sprawling makeshift neighborhoods that are not zoned for housing. Architects said the accident could have been avoided by regulating planning under high-voltage electricity lines.

“Women and men lost their lives by electrocution this morning in a terrible accident at the Matadi-Kibala market following the severing of a phase conductor caused by bad weather,” Prime Minister Sama Lukonde wrote on Twitter.

“I share the immense pain of the families. My thoughts are also with all the injured.”

Workers gather a power cable after a collapse in Kinshasa.
Workers gather a power cable after a collapse in Kinshasa.
EPA

A government representative said the country had begun taking steps to relocate the market last month.

The tragedy came on the same day more than 60 people were killed in a militia attack at a displaced persons’ camp in the eastern section of the country.

With Post wires

People walk amid traffic near the site where a high-tension power cable snapped and fell on houses and a market on the outskirts of Kinshasa.
People walk amid traffic near the site where a high-tension power cable snapped and fell on houses and a market on the outskirts of Kinshasa.
Pepele News via REUTERS

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