At least 26 people have been killed when an overhead high-voltage cable fell into a drainage ditch at a market in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s capital Kinshasa, local authorities said, giving a provisional toll.
“The cable snapped and the live end of it fell into a ditch that was filled with water after morning rain. At present, 26 people have died from electrocution,” Charles Mbutamuntu, the spokesman for the Kinshasa provincial government, told AFP news agency on Wednesday.
Kinshasa’s police chief Sylvano Kasongo said “several people died on the spot”.
The ditch runs across the popular Matadi-Kibala food market in the west of the city, a sprawling metropolis of more than 10 million people.
“Most of the people killed were traders and customers, and some passers-by. The bodies are being taken to the morgue and an investigation has been opened to establish responsibility,” Mbutamuntu said.
Videos from the market shared online showed people wailing around several bodies lying in puddles of water where they had fallen, with fresh produce scattered around them.
Al Jazeera could not independently verify these videos.
Christelle Zindo, one of the traders, told AFP: “Every time there’s a drop of rain, the water doesn’t drain away but overflows onto the market because the ditch is blocked, and all the traders have to work with their feet in the water.”
She condemned “the total indifference of the authorities” to the problem.
Electricity infrastructure in the DRC is often poorly maintained.
In Kinshasa, which is vulnerable to tropical downpours, several districts are prone to flooding as a result of poorly-maintained colonial-era drainage systems.