At least 92 people have been confirmed dead in an oil tanker explosion that took place close to Sierra Leone’s capital, with dozens of other people injured after gathering to scoop leaking fuel. The explosion happened late Friday after the tanker and a bus collided in Wellington, a suburb east of Freetown.
Ninety-two bodies were confirmed to have been deposited by Saturday morning at the mortuary at Connaught Hospital. A staff member in the intensive care unit, Foday Musa, also revealed that about 30 severely burned victims are unlikely to survive.
As nurses attended to victims of the explosion, injured people whose clothes had burned off their backs in the fire lay naked on stretchers. Hundreds of people formed a crowd outside the main gates of the mortuary, close to the hospital’s main entrance, waiting to hear from their loved ones.
Patients were taken to different hospitals and clinics for burn treatment across the metropolitan area; thus, it was unclear how many people were undergoing treatment.
Sierra Leone’s president Julius Maada Bio, who was in Scotland for the United Nations climate talks, tagged the incident a “horrendous loss of life.” “I send my profound sympathies to families who have lost loved ones as a result,” he said in a tweet.
Vice President Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh went to two hospitals overnight and implored Sierra Leone’s National Disaster Management Agency and others to work tirelessly to get things under control.
“We are all deeply saddened by this national tragedy, and it is indeed a difficult time for our country,” he wrote in a Facebook post.
Opinions expressed by NY Weekly contributors are their own.