Five-year-old girl is latest Dakar Rally death
The tragedy-plagued 2005 Dakar Rally claimed its fifth victim after a five-year-old Senegalese girl was crushed to death beneath the wheels of a lorry.
The accident happened on one of Senegal's major roads on Tuesday afternoon about 160km from Dakar as the lorry was making its way to the capital after going to the assistance of competitors stuck in the desert.
"Witnesses interviewed by police indicated that the little girl escaped the attention of her parents, crossed the road and was hit by the back wheels of the lorry," said a race spokesman.
"The assistance lorry, according to witnesses, was going slowly towards Dakar after having left the race a few days earlier. The girl has sadly died."
This year's race had been already reeling from the death of two motorcycle competitors - two-time winner Fabrizio Meoni and Jose Manuel Perez.
Italian Meoni suffered a fatal heart attack after a crash in Tuesday's 11th stage, just one day after the death of Spanish rider Perez.
Earlier Thursday, Senegalese firefighters said that two Belgian motorcyclists, following the Dakar Rally, were killed in a crash east of the capital.
The pile-up between the motorbikes, a truck and a taxi occurred at 1300GMT Wednesday at Mboro, national fire service spokesman Senghane Diagne told AFP.
Seven others, including six Belgians, were injured in the crash, Diagne said, without giving any further details.
In Brussels, the Belgian foreign ministry said the two dead riders - part of a group following KTM rider Rene Delaby - hailed from southern Belgium and were not part of the official Dakar-2005 caravan.
The accident happened, the ministry added, when the group they were travelling with stopped to change a punctured tyre.
"At that moment, a truck driven by a Senegalese national crashed and went in to the group," a ministry spokesman said.
Aside from the two deaths, the ministry said seven people were injured, some seriously and others in deep shock, and all had been taken to hospitals in Dakar.