More than 40 dead in Liberia after leaking fuel tanker exploded as people tried to collect gas
MONROVIA, Liberia (AP) — A leaking fuel tanker exploded as people gathered to collect the gasoline, leaving more than 40 dead, authorities in Liberia said Thursday.
The blast on Tuesday also injured at least 83 people in Totota town in the central part of the West African country, health officials said.
Bong County health official Dr Cynthia Blapook said many of the dead were buried in a mass grave on Wednesday because their remains were unrecognisable. Health authorities said an exact death toll was difficult because of how badly the bodies were burned.
Liberian Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor attended the mass funeral.
“We never expected to start the new year like this,” Howard-Taylor said.
Health officials said the number of injured could rise as they were not certain everyone had been brought for care.
A doctor at one hospital treating the injured urged the Liberian government to deploy a disaster management team and to have one in each county to respond to emergencies.
Dr Minnie Sankawolo-Rocks also pleaded with people not to approach fuel tankers in the hope of collecting much-needed gasoline. Similar deadly accidents have occurred elsewhere in Africa.
“Please, I am begging you,” she said.
Sankawolo-Rocks said people did not listen to police instructions to keep away before it exploded.