At least 99 people were killed and another 100 others injured when a tanker truck carrying fuel exploded following an accident near Sierra Leone’s capital city, Reuters reported Saturday.
According to Fox News, the blast occurred “late Friday when the tanker collided with another truck as it was pulling into a gas station near a busy intersection in Wellington, just east of the capital of Freetown.”
A government spokesperson said “both drivers came out of their vehicles and warned community residents to stay off the scene while trying to address a leakage emanating from the collision.” But not everyone heeded their warnings.
It remains unclear what caused the spilled fuel to ignite, but the blast has killed nearly 100, as of the latest reports, and at least 100 others have been admitted to area hospitals and clinics for burns and other injuries.
Accidental collision ends in deadly blast
Videos of the aftermath of the blast that circulated on social media showed the brutal carnage left behind by the massive fireball, which left hospital workers overwhelmed, according to CBS News. The ranks of health care workers in Sierra Leone are said to remain significantly depleted, even several years after the Ebola crisis swept through the West African nation.
The elected leader of Sierra Leone, President Julius Maada Bio, was in Scotland at the time of the deadly disaster to attend a summit on the climate crisis, but he released a statement via social media addressing the tragic and “horrific loss of life.”
“My profound sympathies with families who have lost loved ones and those who have been maimed as a result,” he wrote in a tweet, according to CBS.
In a Facebook post following a visit to two area hospitals, Vice President Juldeh Jalloh wrote, “We are all deeply saddened by this national tragedy, and it is indeed a difficult time for our country.”
Not the first time
Sadly, this isn’t the first time that a tragic fuel truck blast has rocked Sub-Saharan Africa. According to a report from Reuters, a similar accident killed some 85 people in Tanzania in 2019.
Another tanker truck explosion in the Democratic Republic of Congo resulted in 50 deaths, Reuters said.
As hospital workers struggle to grapple with the latest mass casualty event, the World Health Organization (WHO) has vowed to send aid to Sierra Leone.
“We will provide more support as needed at this terrible time for the people of Sierra Leone,” the group said, according to Reuters.