Oil tanker explosion kills at least 99 in Sierra Leone as president mourns ‘horrendous loss of life’ (Videos)

At least 99 people have been killed after an oil tanker exploded near Sierra Leone’s capital, with the country’s president mourning the “horrendous loss of life”.

More than 100 victims were taken to hospitals and clinics across the city, deputy health minister Amara Jambai said.

A staff member at Connaught Hospital said 30 severely burned casualties were not expected to survive.

Nurses attended to injured people who lay naked on stretchers, their clothes having been burnt off by the blast.

The explosion took place early on Saturday after a bus struck the tanker in Wellington, a suburb of the capital.

Video obtained by The Associated Press showed a giant fireball burning in the night sky following the explosion, as some survivors with severe burns cried out in pain.

Police were at the scene to assist disaster management officials as charred remains of victims lay on the ground awaiting transport to mortuaries.

President Julius Maada Bio, who is in Glasgow for the COP26 climate talks, deplored the “horrendous loss of life”.

“My profound sympathies with families who have lost loved ones and those who have been maimed as a result,” he tweeted.

Victims included people who had flocked to collect fuel leaking from the ruptured vehicle, said Freetown Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, adding that the extent of the damage was not yet clear.

Scores of people have previously been killed in Sub-Saharan Africa after gathering at the sites of tanker lorry accidents to collect spilled fuel and being hit by secondary blasts.

A tanker explosion in Tanzania killed 85 people in 2019, while about 50 people died in a similar disaster in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2018.

The head of the country’s National Disaster Management Agency, Brima Bureh Sesay, said: “We’ve got so many casualties, burnt corpses.

“It’s a terrible, terrible accident.”

Vice President Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh visited two hospitals overnight and said Sierra Leone’s National Disaster Management Agency and others would “work tirelessly” in responding to the emergency.

“We are all deeply saddened by this national tragedy, and it is indeed a difficult time for our country,” he said.

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