Sierra Leone fuel tanker blast leaves 91 dead

  |  Saturday, November 6th, 2021 |  5:30 pm
       

At least 91 people have died and dozens more are injured after a massive explosion in Sierra Leone’s capital, Freetown.

The blast happened after a 40ft-long oil tanker collided with another vehicle at a busy junction in the city, reports BBC.

Footage broadcast by local media outlets showed badly charred bodies in the streets surrounding the tanker.

President Julius Maada Bio said he was “deeply disturbed by the tragic fires and the horrendous loss of life”.

In a tweet, he said his government would do “everything to support the affected families”.

Freetown Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr described seeing “harrowing” photos but said the scale of the damage was not yet clear.

In a post on Facebook she said there were “rumours that more than 100 people have lost their lives”, although there is as yet no official death toll.

The state-run morgue has received 91 bodies so far, its manager told Reuters news agency.

The explosion is believed to have happened at a junction outside the busy Choithram Supermarket in the Wellington region of the city at around 22.00 GMT on Friday.

One report said a bus full of people was completely burnt, while nearby shops and market stalls were caught up in the inferno when fuel spilled over the streets.

Brima Bureh Sesay, the head of the Sierre Leone’s National Disaster Management Agency, told local media that the incident had been “a terrible, terrible accident”.

The port city, which is home to just over a million people, has faced several serious disasters in recent years.

In March, more than 80 people were injured after a major fire in one of the city’s slums left more than 5,000 people displaced.

And in 2017 over 1,000 people were killed after heavy rains led to a mudslide that swept through the city, leaving around 3,000 people homeless.

UR/