Picture: Independent Media

Lubumbashi - At least 18 people were killed in DR Congo's mining belt on Wednesday when a truck laden with industrial acid collided with a bus, spewing its contents on passengers, sources said.

The accident happened near the village of Fungurume, in the heart of a copper and cobalt mining area between Lubumbashi and Kolwezi in the southeast.

"A Tanzanian-registered tanker truck carrying acid hit a stationary bus. The acid poured out onto the passengers," police captain Corneille Lwitetele, in charge of road traffic in Lualaba province, told AFP on Thursday.

He gave a toll of 21 dead and 12 injured, while Lualaba's provincial health minister, Samy Kayombo, gave a figure of 18 dead and 12 injured with burns.

The UN radio channel Okapi said the damaged truck continued to spill its contents until midday on Thursday, and acid flowed as far as the village of Kabwe.

Traffic on the busy highway resumed at midnight Wednesday, police said.

Acid is widely used in mining to leach metal from rock.

Road accidents are tragically common in the Democratic Republic of Congo, with the main causes being poor road surfaces, excessive speed and badly-maintained vehicles.

AFP