Many dead in DR Congo blast caused by lightning - UN

View of a house destroyed at the Camp Brigade after an explosion at an arms depot in Mbuji-Mayi, the central Democratic Republic of Congo, on 25 January 2014 Image copyright AFP
Image caption The explosion destroyed houses near an arms depot in the central city of Mbuji-Mayi

An explosion at an arms depot in the Democratic Republic of Congo has killed at least 20 people, UN officials say.

The explosion happened on Friday after a bolt of lightning caused a fire at an army base in the city of Mbuji-Mayi.

More than 50 people were also injured and houses were destroyed, said the statement by the Monusco UN mission.

The aim of the Monusco is to neutralise armed groups in DR Congo, which is struggling to recover from a war that killed millions between 1998 and 2003.

Friday's blast, which occurred near the main market in Mbuji-Mayi, caused "desolation" in the central city, according to Monusco.

"I have instructed our office in Mbuji-Mayi to stand by and support local authorities in dealing with the situation," said Martin Kobler, head of the peacekeeping mission.

Mbuji-Mayi is DR Congo's third-largest city and is at the heart of the county's diamond mining industry.

DR Congo has massive mineral resources but most of its people live in poverty.