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Graphic photo shows aftermath of fuel tanker explosion in Tanzania, not cult-inspired killings in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

IN SHORT: Some Facebook posts claim this graphic photo shows church members burned by their pastor in the DRC. But this is not true, the people died in a fuel tanker explosion in Tanzania in 2019.

Warning: This report links to graphic and disturbing images.

A photo doing the rounds on Facebook shows dozens of charred bodies lying on the ground, with people in the background looking at them.

The photo is posted with claims that it shows the bodies of people who were burned by their pastor in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

One user wrote: “A pastor in DRC burnt all his flock, following wat Mackenzie did in Kenya,now this one in Congo. How much trust do you have in ur pastor? We are surely living in a crazy world! Punchline- Faith must be guided by reasoning and if not, we are all going to perish in the name of looking for heaven from the fake religious leaders of nowadays.” 

Paul Mackenzie is a self-styled Kenyan pastor who was arrested in April 2023 for his alleged involvement in the deaths of over 400 people in Shakahola, a village in Kilifi county in Kenya. It’s alleged he convinced his followers to starve to death for them to go to heaven and “meet Jesus”. 

The disturbing photo has been posted here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

But does it show victims of cult-like religion in the DRC? We checked.


Fuel tanker explosion in Tanzania in 2019

A reverse image search of the photo shows that it was first posted online on 10 August 2019 after a fuel tanker exploded in Morogoro town in Tanzania. According to local and international media, at least 60 people died and dozens more were injured.

Witnesses told reporters that people had gathered around the tanker after it was involved in an accident to collect leaking fuel. It then burst into flames.

The photo does not show people killed in the DRC in 2023.

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