Apologies for my silence. I’ve been away for a few weeks, and during my absence, that unhappy country, the Democratic Republic of Congo, fell victim to one of the deadliest road accidents the world has ever seen - on Friday, 2 July.
An oil tanker overturned as it was overtaking a bus on a dirt road in the village of Sange, close to the border with Burundi. The authorities say that as local people rushed to try to gather the leaking fuel, a lighted cigarette caused it to explode.
At least 230 people were killed, including some watching a World Cup match in a nearby cinema. Roads in the area are notoriously bad after years of war and chaos, while Sange’s population has been swelled by people fleeing the fearsome Lord’s Resistance Army militia.
This may have been the worst ever accident involving a tanker. In 1978, 217 people perished when one carrying liquid propylene overturned near a campsite at Los Alfaques near Taragona in Spain, while in 2000, up to 200 died after a petrol tanker ploughed into stationery vehicles caught in a traffic jam near Ibadan in Nigeria.