Congo bids painful farewell to victims of snapped power cable

KINSHASA, Feb 11 (Reuters) - The velodrome in Kinshasa's Kintambo neigbourhood rang out with howls of disbelief on Friday, as thousands gathered to say farewell to the 25 people killed when a high-voltage power cable snapped last week in Democratic Republic of Congo's capital.

On Feb. 2, lighting struck a power cable during a heavy storm, causing it to snap and fall on houses and a market, electrocuting those below. read more

At a ceremony attended by some of the country's top politicians, friends and family supported those lost in grief as 25 hearses bearing the coffins arrived.

Peggy Ndanani came to assist her little brother whose wife was a saleswoman in the market.

"It's really very painful, to see a person that you were with all the time, understand that we are not going to see them again," Ndanani said. "We take the opportunity to ask the government to see how they can help the children of all these victims."

The government paid for the ceremony and donated to the families of those who died. The coffins were laid out in a long row under an open-sided marquee, gold-framed photos of the victims propped in front.

Power cables frequently collapse in Kinshasa, a city of more than 13 million people with outdated infrastructure and informal neighbourhoods that sprawl into areas not intended for residential development.

Kinshasa's governor, Gentiny Ngobila, said his administration would never again compromise on planning laws and allow "anarchic construction."

"This tragedy, beyond our tears, is a sacred moment of union of the people of Kinshasa, in sadness and also in hope of better days," Ngobila said.

Reporting by Benoit Nyemba and Justin Makangara; Writing by Hereward Holland; Editing by Bill Berkrot

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