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Goma - The death toll from a weekend collision between a fuel tanker and another lorry in the town of Mbuba, in western Congo, has risen to 53, officials said Monday.

The previous toll was 39, but the Health Ministry updated the figures in a statement, adding that 72 injured people had been hospitalised.

"The toll could increase," the ministry said. "In fact, burn victims can succumb to organ failure and infections in the days following the accident."

The tanker was on its way from the eastern city of Matadi to the national capital Kinshasa, said Matubwana. It was initially unclear exactly why or how it collided with the truck in the village of Mbuba.

The tanker exploded, causing a fire that spread to nearby buildings.

President Joseph Kabila has called for a three-day period of national mourning for the victims of the accident.

Fatal road accidents occur frequently in Congo and in several other African countries, in large part due to poor infrastructure and defective vehicles.