At least 98 people have been killed in an oil tanker explosion in Sierra Leone

An oil tanker explosion near the Sierra Leone capital has killed at least 98 people and injured dozens more, officials and witnesses said Saturday as large crowds gathered to collect spilled fuel.

The National Disaster Management Agency said the explosion occurred Friday night when a tanker collided with another truck heading to a gas station near a busy intersection in Wellington, east of the capital, Freetown.

“Both drivers got out of their vehicles and warned community residents to stay away from the scene when trying to deal with leaks emanating from the collision,” the company said.

However, in this deeply impoverished country, witnesses said, people were still rushing to collect fuel. It was not immediately clear what caused the fuel leak to ignite, but a major explosion soon followed.

The video, obtained by the Associated Press, showed a giant fireball burning in the night sky, with some severely burned survivors screaming in pain. The burnt remains of some of the victims were scattered at the scene, waiting to be taken to the morgue.

About 100 injured people have been admitted to local hospitals, officials said. About 30 people with severe burns at Connaught Hospital were not expected to survive, said Fode Musa, an employee in its intensive care unit.

The injured, who were charred in the blaze that followed the blast, were lying naked on a stretcher when nurses treated them Saturday. Hundreds of people waited in front of the main doors of the morgue and near the main entrance of the hospital for the news of their loved ones.

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Osman Timbo said the dead included his 13-year-old brother Mohamed.

“He left the house and said we were going to buy bread to eat,” Timbo said. “After hearing about the explosion, I went to the scene and saw my younger brother lying, he was completely burnt. I felt so bad. I loved him so much! “

Hospital officials called in as many doctors and nurses as they could at night to treat the injured. The country’s health sector is still reeling from the 2014-2016 Ebola epidemic, which has killed many West African doctors and nurses.

On Saturday, the UN. President Julius Mata Bio, who was in Scotland to attend the climate talks, expressed regret over the “terrible loss of life”.

“My condolences to the families who lost loved ones and those who were devastated as a result,” he tweeted.

Vice President Mohamed Zulde Jallo visited two hospitals overnight and said Sierra Leone’s National Disaster Management Agency and others were “working tirelessly” following the emergency.

“We are all deeply saddened by this national tragedy,” he wrote on his Facebook page.

Esmond Harmon

"Entrepreneur. Social media advocate. Amateur travel guru. Freelance introvert. Thinker."

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