No fewer than 77 people have been confirmed dead after a heavy lorry that was carrying passengers tipped over between Bambari and Ippy in the Central African Republic.
Officials said the accident took place Tuesday. Fifty-nine bodies were taken to the morgue at the regional hospital in Bambari and 18 (were taken) by their relatives for burial,” Bambari hospital official Michel Zahandji said ,
Medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said around 60 injured people were being treated at the same hospital.
“It was a 10-wheel truck that was transporting tonnes of goods and people setting off for the weekly market in Maloum. It tipped over with all its cargo,” said Bambari Mayor Abel Matchipata.
A Bambari police officer said: “We have counted in total 77 deaths, most of them men. But there are also many injured, including some in a serious condition.”
The accident may have been linked to “technical failures and to (the lorry) being overloaded”, the officer said, adding that an investigation had been opened to determine the cause of the accident.
Local resident Hubert Tchenebou said it was not the first time an accident involving an overloaded truck had happened in the area.
“There are police and UN forces (in the area), but they let vehicles pass on which people are perched like birds,” said Mr Tchenebou, reached by telephone.
Due to lack of other transportation, people in the Central African Republic regularly resort to travelling in overloaded trucks, which are often in a poor condition.