FREETOWN, November 6 (Reuters) – At least 99 people were killed and more than 100 injured in the capital of Sierra Leone on Friday evening when a tanker truck exploded in a collision, local authorities said .
Fuel still appeared to be leaking from the oil tanker wreck on Saturday morning as police and soldiers tried to chase large crowds of onlookers from the streets, according to a Reuters reporter.
A burnt human body and the blackened carcasses of several cars and motorcycles dotted the road in the eastern suburbs of Freetown in Wellington, where hundreds had gathered.
The death toll now stands at 99 and more than 100 injured are being treated in hospitals and clinics in the capital, Deputy Health Minister Amara Jambai told Reuters.
The victims included people who had gathered to retrieve the fuel that leaked from the broken vehicle, said Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, mayor of the port city, in a Facebook post which was later edited to remove the reference.
“We have so many victims, corpses burned,” said Brima Bureh Sesay, head of the National Disaster Management Agency, in a video of the scene shared online. “It’s a terrible, terrible accident.”
Videos shared online shortly after the explosion showed people running through clouds of thick smoke as large fires lit up the night sky. Reuters was unable to immediately verify the footage.
Accidents with tankers in sub-Saharan Africa have already killed dozens of people who had gathered at the site to collect the spilled fuel and were struck by secondary explosions.
In 2019, an oil tanker explosion in Tanzania left 85 people dead, while around 50 people were killed in a similar disaster in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2018.
The mayor said the extent of the damage in Freetown was not yet clear.
“My sincere condolences to the families who have lost loved ones and to those who have been mutilated by them,” tweeted President Julius Maada Bio.
“My government will do everything to support the affected families. “
Reporting by Umaru Fofana in Freetown and Bhargav Acharya in Bengaluru; Written by Bhargav Acharya and Alessandra Prentice Editing by Clarence Fernandez, Frances Kerry and Giles Elgood
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