Botswana blocks copper trucks from Congo on Ebola fears-Times of Zambia

LUSAKA Thu Aug 28, 2014 5:54am EDT

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LUSAKA Aug 28 (Reuters) - More than 100 trucks hauling copper from the Democratic Republic of Congo have been denied entry into Botswana over fears of an Ebola outbreak in Congo, leaving the trucks stranded at a border crossing, local media reported on Thursday.

The trucks, en route to South Africa from Democratic Republic of Congo, have been stranded in neighbouring Zambia since Monday, when they were denied entry into Botswana, the Times of Zambia newspaper reported.

Democratic Republic of Congo on Sunday declared an Ebola outbreak in its northern Equateur province, about 1,200 km (750 miles) north of the capital, Kinshasa. [I:nL5N0QU148] Most of its copper mines are in Katanga, about as far from Kinshasa to the southeast as Equateur is to the north.

At least 1,427 people have died of the deadly hemorrhagic virus since it broke out in the remote jungles of southeast Guinea in March. It then spread quickly to neighbouring Liberia and Sierra Leone.

South African driver Anthony Abel told the Times of Zambia that drivers coming from the DRC were not being allowed entry into Botswana regardless of their nationality.

"We don't know how long this will take. The problem is not on the Zambian side but on the Botswana side," Abel said.

Zambia said this month it would restrict entry of travellers from countries affected by the Ebola virus and would ban Zambians from travelling to those countries, one of the strictest moves yet by a southern African country against the deadly virus. (Reporting by Chris Mfula; Editing by David Dolan and Larry King)

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