98 people dead after oil tanker explosion in Sierra Leone

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone — At least 98 people were killed and more than 100 others were wounded Friday after an oil tanker exploded following a collision with a bus near Sierra Leone’s capital city, authorities said.

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Mohamed Lamrane Bah, director of communications for Sierra Leone’s National Disaster Management Agency, said several people were also in critical condition, CNN reported.

Update 3:11 p.m. EDT Nov. 7: Officials in Sierra Leone revised the death toll upward from 92 to 98, according to The Associated Press. The tanker and bus collided near a busy intersection by a gasoline station, Sierra Leone’s National Disaster Management Agency told the news organization.

“Both drivers came out of their vehicles and warned community residents to stay off the scene while trying to address a leakage emanating from the collision,” the agency said.

Original report: The tanker exploded in a suburb of Freetown, the nation’s capital, according to the BBC. A bus struck the tanker in Wellington, a suburb east of Freetown, according to The Associated Press.

“We’ve got so many casualties, burnt corpses,” Brima Bureh Sesay, head of the NDMA, said in a video from the scene shared online, according to Reuters. “It’s a terrible, terrible accident.”

The mortuary at Connaught Hospital reported 92 bodies had been brought in by Saturday morning, according to the AP. About 30 severely burned victims were not expected to survive, staff member Foday Musa told the news organization.

President Julius Maada Bio said in a tweet that he was “deeply disturbed by the tragic fires and the horrendous loss of life”.

Freetown Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr said she saw “harrowing” photos, according to the BBC.

The explosion occurred at a junction outside the Choithram Supermarket in the Wellington suburb east of Freetown, the BBC reported.

In 2019, a tanker explosion in eastern Tanzania killed 85 people, according to Reuters. Approximately 50 people were killed in a similar disaster in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2018, the news service reported.