Dozens dead and at least 100 injured after oil tanker explosion in Sierra Leone’s capital

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Ninety-one people were killed and more than 100 injured in Sierra Leone’s capital on Friday when a tanker truck exploded in a collision, the central morgue and local authorities said.

The government has yet to confirm the death toll, but the director of the central mortuary in Freetown said he received 91 bodies as a result of the blast.

Another 100 victims have been admitted for treatment in hospitals and clinics in the capital, Deputy Health Minister Amara Jambai told Reuters.

The victims included people who had gathered to retrieve the fuel that leaked from the broken vehicle, said Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, mayor of the port city, in a Facebook post which was later edited to remove the reference.

“We have so many victims, corpses burned,” said Brima Bureh Sesay, head of the National Disaster Management Agency, in a video of the scene shared online. “It’s a terrible, terrible accident.”

Images widely shared online showed several severely burned victims lying in the streets as the blaze raged through nearby shops and homes. Reuters was unable to immediately verify the footage.

Tanker crashes in sub-Saharan Africa have already killed dozens of people who had gathered at the site to collect the spilled fuel and were struck by secondary explosions.

In 2019, an oil tanker explosion in eastern Tanzania left 85 people dead, while around 50 people were killed in a similar disaster in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2018.

The mayor said the extent of the damage in Freetown was not yet clear, adding that police and his deputy were on the scene to help disaster management officials.

“My sincere condolences to the families who have lost loved ones and to those who have been mutilated by them,” tweeted President Julius Maada Bio.

“My government will do everything to support the affected families. “

(REUTERS)

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