At least 99 killed in Sierra Leone fuel tanker explosion

·2-min read

At least 99 people were killed and more than 100 wounded in Freetown on Saturday when a fuel tanker exploded following a collision.

Authorities in Sierra Leone have not released an official death toll but Sinneh Kamara, the manager of the central state morgue in Freetown, said it had received 91 bodies following the blast.

A further 100 casualties were taken hospitals and clinics across the capital, deputy health minister Amara Jambai told Reuters news agency.

"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

Images online showed several badly burned victims lying on the streets as fire blazed through shops and houses nearby.

Freetown mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr said she was deeply saddened to hear about the explosion.

"The video and photo footage making rounds on social media are harrowing," she wrote on Facebook.

"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."

The crash provided a challenge for Freetown's health service already suffering from years of underfunding and the 2014-2016 Ebola epidemic.

"The situation at the hospitals, especially Connaught hospital ... is overwhelming," said Swaray Lengor, a programme manager at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

"Inadequate medical consumables and bed capacity. NGO partners have been requested to support with equipment, medical commodities and food."

Accidents with tanker trucks in have killed dozens of people who gathered at the site to collect spilled fuel and were hit by secondary blasts.

In 2019, a tanker explosion in eastern Tanzania killed 85 people, while around 50 people were killed in a similar incident in Democratic Republic of Congo in 2018."

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