Sierra Leone Mourns As Tank Explosion Kills Nearly 100
By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
(Worthy News) – Sierra Leone was plunged into mourning after at least 99 people died and more than 100 were injured when an oil tanker truck exploded near the capital, officials said.
Survivors said the tanker collided with another truck late Friday while pulling into a gas station near a busy intersection in Wellington, just east of the capital of Freetown.
The National Disaster Management Agency confirmed that “drivers came out of their vehicles and warned community residents to stay off the scene.” They were “trying to address a leakage emanating from the collision,” the agency added.
In this profoundly impoverished West African country, however, crowds still rushed in to scoop up the fuel, adding up the eventual death toll, witnesses said.
It was not immediately known what caused the leaking fuel to ignite, but a massive explosion soon followed.
Video showed a giant fireball burning in the night sky as some survivors with severe burns cried out in pain. The charred remains of some victims lay strewn at the scene, awaiting transport to mortuaries.
Nearly 100 injured people were taken to area hospitals, officials said. About 30 severely burned people at Connaught Hospital were not expected to survive, according to Foday Musa, a staff member in its intensive care unit.
Vice President Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh visited two hospitals overnight and said Sierra Leone’s security services would “work tirelessly” in the wake of the emergency.
“We are all deeply saddened by this national tragedy,” he stressed on his Facebook website page.
The tragedy added to hardships for many of Sierra Leone’s many Muslim population of nearly 7 million people.
Among those facing difficulties are also minority Christians, who comprise just over 20 percent of the population.
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