At least 60 killed as fuel tanker explodes off Tanzania’s coast

COMPILED FROM WIRE SERVICES
ISTANBUL
Published 10.08.2019 11:04
Updated 10.08.2019 16:42

At least 60 people died Saturday when a fuel tanker exploded after an accident at Morogoro, 200 kilometers (120 miles) west of the Tanzanian city Dar es Salaam, police said.

"There was a big blast which has so far killed at least 57 people," mainly people trying to collect leaking fuel, regional police chief Willbrod Mtafungwa told reporters.

Regional police commissioner Steven Kabwe told the local Azam TV that many other people suffered burns in the explosion in the town of Morogoro.

Witnesses in the town, which lies about 120 miles (200 kilometers) from Tanzania's economic hub of Dar es Salaam, told The Associated Press that scores of people had gathered around the fuel tanker after it was involved in an accident early Saturday. They said people were trying to siphon away fuel when the tanker burst into flames.

Incidents of people being killed in explosions while stealing fuel from incapacitated tankers are common in East Africa.

In 2013, a similarly deadly incident killed at least 29 people on the outskirts of the Ugandan capital, Kampala, as scores swarmed around the scene of an accident.

'Never seen a disaster of such magnitude'

Governor Kebwe said the explosion was triggered when a man tried to pull out the truck's battery, while witnesses said one of the people looting the fuel was smoking a cigarette.

Police later announced the blaze had been brought under control.

"The Morogoro region had never experienced a disaster of such magnitude," Kebwe told reporters at the scene in Msamvu, which lies about 200 kilometres (125 miles) west of Dar es Salaam.

He said the tanker truck overturned on the roadside and the "fuel began to flow freely".

"We have mobilised all the doctors at the Morogoro regional hospital so the wounded can be treated," he added.

Magufuli said in a statement he was "very shocked" by looting of fuel from damaged vehicles.

"There are vehicles that carry dangerous fuel oil, as in this case in Morogoro, there are others that carry toxic chemicals or explosives, let's stop this practice, please," he said.

Last month, at least 45 people were killed and more than 100 injured in central Nigeria when a petrol tanker crashed and then exploded as people were trying to gather fuel.

In May, a similar incident occurred in Niger just a short distance from the airport in the capital Niamey, leaving almost 80 people dead.

Among the deadliest such disasters, 292 people lost their lives in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in July 2010, and in September 2015 at least 203 people perished in the town of Maridi in South Sudan.

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