A tanker truck filled with oil exploded and set fire to a village in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, killing at least 200 people and injuring scores more, the Red Cross said Saturday.
Flames engulfed dozens of earth and straw constructed homes after villagers, many of them children, crowded around the tanker which overturned.
Helicopters provided by the United Nations mission in the country evacuated injured villagers to hospital, officials said.
"So far, the accident has left 200 dead. It is a provisional toll. We have people on the spot and the search (for victims) is continuing," the Red Cross official in charge of Sud-Kivu province, Leonard Zigade told AFP.
A UN mission source told AFP on condition of anonymity that five Pakistani troops were among the dead, but this was denied by MONUSCO's spokesman Madnodje Mounoubai, who told AFP that no UN soldiers were among the victims.
A military source in MONUSCO's command said he had no reports of any victims from the peacekeeping mission and said verification was going on with units present in the zone.
Earlier local officials said at least 100 people had been killed, while a MONUSCO source gave a toll of "223 dead and 110 injured."
"What is certain is that the toll will get higher. It seems that what happened was truly horrible," the source said on condition of anonymity, adding that the search was still going on "for more charred bodies."
"A tanker truck coming from Tanzania overturned in the village of Sange. There was a crush (of people) and a petrol leak, there was an explosion of fuel oil which spread through the village," regional government spokesman Vincent Kabanga told AFP.
The village is located around 70 kilometres (40 miles) south of the Sud-Kivu county town of Bukavu, close to the border with Burundi.
Dozens of homes in Sange were caught in the blaze after the accident, which a police officer based in Bukavu said had been caused by the truck's "excessive speed."
The officer, who asked not to be named, added that many of those who surrounded the vehicle before it exploded were children.
He said the village was now "in total mourning. (AFP)