Ninety-two people were killed and over 100 wounded in the capital of Sierra Leone on Friday when a fuel tanker exploded following a collision, authorities said today.
The explosion took place in the early hours after a bus struck the tanker in Wellington, a suburb just to the east of Freetown. It is believed people rushed to get fuel from the leaking tanker after the collision, before it exploded.
The government has not yet confirmed the death toll, but the mortuary at Connaught Hospital reported 92 bodies had been brought in by Saturday morning.
A further 100 casualties have been admitted for treatment at hospitals and clinics across the capital, deputy health minister Amara Jambai told Reuters.
About 30 severely burned victims were not expected to survive, according to staffer Foday Musa.
Ninety-one people were killed and over 100 wounded in the capital of Sierra Leone on Friday when a fuel tanker exploded following a collision, the central morgue and local authorities said. Pictured: A group of people are seen gathering near the flames in the aftermath of the explosion in a photo shared by Sierra Leone’s president Julius Maada
In this image made from video, people walk by burning debris following the explosion of an oil tanker in the Wellington suburb of Sierra Leone’s capital Freetown Friday Nov. 5, 2021
People gather around an oil tanker to collect leaking fuel before it exploded near Sierra Leone’s capital, killing at least 92 people and severely injuring dozens of others, officials and witnesses said Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021
People look on at a pile of burnt motorbikes in the aftermath of a fuel tanker explosion in Freetown on November 6, 2021. – A fuel Tanker exploded at PMB Wellington Industrial Estate east of Freetown on November 5, 2021, killing over 90 people
Pictured: A bunt tanker is seen at the scene of the explosion on Saturday, November 6
Victims included people who had flocked to collect fuel leaking from the ruptured vehicle, Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, mayor of the port city, said initially in a post on Facebook that was later edited to remove the reference.
‘We’ve got so many casualties, burnt corpses,’ said Brima Bureh Sesay, head of the National Disaster Management Agency, in a video from the scene shared online. ‘It’s a terrible, terrible accident.’
Images shared widely online showed several badly burned victims lying on the streets as fire blazed through shops and houses nearby. Reuters was not able immediately to verify the images.
Video obtained by The Associated Press showed a giant fireball burning in the night sky following the explosion, as some survivors with severe burns cried out in pain.
A nurse at a hospital where the victims were taken confirmed the number of dead to new agencies, adding he had also tended to many women, men and children with ‘serious injuries’.
According to witnesses, the accident happened when a vehicle caught fire in a petrol station after a road accident.
The flames then spread in the area, burning people in cars and on roads nearby.
Sierra Leone’s Vice President Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh had arrived on site on Saturday after being in Scotland attending the United Nations climate talks Saturday.
He deplored the ‘horrendous loss of life’ and shared a picture from the scene.
Pictured: An aerial view of the scene of the accident seen on November 6, 2021
Firefighters work next to burnt wreckages after a fuel tanker explosion in Freetown, on November 6, 2021
The government has not yet confirmed the death toll of the explosion, but the manager of the central state morgue in Freetown said it had received 91 bodies following the explosion. Pictured: People look at burned-out vehicles after the explosion
Vice President Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh visited two hospitals overnight and said tSierra Leone’s National Disaster Management Agency and others would ‘work tirelessly’ in the wake of the emergency.
‘We are all deeply saddened by this national tragedy, and it is indeed a difficult time for our country,’ he said on his Facebook page.
The mayor said that the extent of the damage in Freetown was not yet clear, adding that police and her deputy were at the scene to assist disaster management officials.
‘My profound sympathies with families who have lost loved ones and those who have been maimed as a result,’ President Julius Maada Bio tweeted.
‘My Government will do everything to support affected families.’
Images shared widely online showed several badly burned victims lying on the streets as fire blazed through shops and houses nearby
Security forces take measures at the blast site after a fuel tanker exploded and killed dozens in Wellington district of Freetown, Sierra Leone on November 6, 2021
People gather at the scene of a tanker explosion after it was struck by a truck in the Wellington suburb of Sierra Leone’s capital Freetown Saturday Nov. 6, 2021
Accidents with tanker trucks in Sub-Saharan Africa have previously killed scores of people who gathered at the site to collect spilled fuel and were hit by secondary blasts.
In 2009, more than 100 people were killed when a petrol tanker overturned northwest of Kenyan capital Nairobi and an explosion burnt those gathering to collect leaking fuel.
In 2019, a tanker explosion in eastern Tanzania killed 85 people, while around 50 people were killed in a similar disaster in Democratic Republic of Congo in 2018.
In July this year, 13 people were killed and others seriously burnt when a ‘huge fireball’ engulfed a crowd in Kenya as they siphoned fuel from an overturned petrol truck that ignited without warning.