At least 99 people have been killed and more than 100 injured in a fuel tanker explosion in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone. The explosion occurred when a truck hit the vehicle. Most of the victims were local residents who filled canisters and bottles with gasoline from a damaged cistern, the mayor of the city said.
The explosion occurred in the Wellington neighborhood on the eastern outskirts of the city, at a gas station, when a truck ran over the tanker, Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr reported. She also confirmed that a rescue operation was taking place on the spot.
Deputy Health Minister Amara Jambai said at least 99 people had died and more than 100 had been hospitalized across the city. As Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, Mayor of the city, reported, most of the victims were locals filling canisters with gasoline leaking from a damaged tanker.
– There are a lot of victims. Many charred bodies, reported the head of the Central Crisis Management Agency Brima Bureh Sesay. “It’s a terrible accident,” he wrote on social media.
The photos circulated on the Internet show a charred body lying on the street and burning buildings around the scene of the accident.
Condolences from the president
The authorities have not yet issued any statement summarizing the tragedy. The country’s president Julius Maada Bio, who has yet to return to Sierra Leone after a trip abroad in connection with his participation in the COP26 climate conference in Scotland, posted his condolences on Twitter.
“Express my deepest sympathy to families who have lost their loved ones and to those who have suffered injuries,” he wrote. He assured that his government “will do everything possible to help those affected by the tragedy.”
Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr emphasized that the full extent of the tragedy is not yet known. “The police and my deputy are on site to help rescue teams,” she said.
Main photo source: Reuters