An oil tanker exploded near Sierra Leone’s capital, killing at least 92 people and severely injuring dozens of others after large crowds gathered to collect leaking fuel, officials and witnesses said Saturday.
The explosion took place late Friday after a bus struck the tanker in Wellington, a suburb just to the east of the capital city Freetown.
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. Charred remains of the victims lay strewn at the scene awaiting transport to mortuaries.
President Julius Maada Bio, who was in Scotland attending the United Nations climate talks Saturday, 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.
About 100 people injured at the scene were admitted to hospitals and clinics across the capital, Deputy Health Minister Amara Jambai told Reuters.
Vice President Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh visited two hospitals overnight and said Sierra Leone’s National Disaster Management Agency and others would “work tirelessly” in the wake of the emergency.
“We are all deeply saddened by this national tragedy, and it is indeed a difficult time for our country,” he said on his Facebook page.