At least 25 people died after a high-tension power cable snapped and fell on houses and a market in the outskirts of the Congolese capital Kinshasa on Wednesday, police said.
“A high-voltage electric cable fell on several houses in the Matadi-Kibala district and in the market, several people died on the spot,” Kinshasa’s police chief Sylvano Kasongo 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.
It is not yet clear what caused the power cable to break.
But in a statement, DR Congo’s national electricity company said it believed lightning had struck part of the cable, causing it to fall to the ground. The company sent condolences to the victims’ families.
Police said the collapse happened at the Matadi-Kibala district on the outskirts of Kinshasa and that a number of people died on the spot.
Local media report that the majority of the victims are female market traders.
“The cable snapped and the live end of it fell into a ditch that was filled with water after morning rain,” Charles Mbutamuntu, spokesman for the Kinshasa provincial government, told AFP news agency.
Mr Mbutamuntu said the bodies had been taken to the morgue and an investigation into the incident was under way.
Prime Minister Sama Lukonde visited the market later on Wednesday. In comments posted to Twitter, he described the incident as a “terrible accident”, adding: “I share the immense pain of the families. My thoughts are also with all the injured.”
Several districts of the capital are prone to flooding due to poorly maintained colonial-era drainage systems.