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At least 91 dead after fuel tanker explodes

At least 91 were killed when an oil tanker exploded at a busy junction in Sierra Leone.

The fuel carrier was involved in a collision in Freetown, the capital city, last night.

It ignited shortly after, triggering a blast which killed anyone in the immediate vicinity and started a fire which spread to neighbouring buildings. 

The full death toll is not yet known but the central state morgue has reported receiving dozens of bodies so far.

Victims included people who had flocked to collect fuel leaking from the ruptured vehicle, Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, mayor of the port city, said in a post on Facebook.

The tragedy is believed to have taken place outside a supermarket in the Wellington region of the city at around 10pm.

Images shared widely online showed several badly burned victims lying on the streets.

Brima Bureh Sesay, head of the National Disaster Management Agency, said: ‘We’ve got so many casualties, burnt corpses. It’s a terrible, terrible accident.’

Oil tanker explosion in Wellington, Freetown, Sierra Leone (Picture: @MohamedSaiduBah)
Emergency services are still counting the cost of the huge blast and fire (Picture: @MohamedSaiduBah)
People look on at a pile of burnt motorbikes in the aftermath of a fuel tanker explosion in Freetown on November 6, 2021. - A fuel Tanker exploded at PMB Wellington Industrial Estate east of Freetown on November 5, 2021, killing around 80 people. (Photo by Saidu BAH / AFP) (Photo by SAIDU BAH/AFP via Getty Images)
Motorbikes and buildings in the vicinity were destroyed by fire (Picture: AFP)
People look on at burnt cars in the aftermath of a fuel tanker explosion in Freetown on November 6, 2021. - A fuel Tanker exploded at PMB Wellington Industrial Estate east of Freetown on November 5, 2021, killing around 80 people. (Photo by Saidu BAH / AFP) (Photo by SAIDU BAH/AFP via Getty Images)
The city of Freetown is counting the cost of the incident this morning, which happened east of the city centre (Picture: AFP)

President Julius Maada Bio tweeted: ‘My profound sympathies with families who have lost loved ones and those who have been maimed as a result.

‘My Government will do everything to support affected families.’

Accidents with tanker trucks in Sub-Saharan Africa have previously killed scores of people who gathered at the site to collect spilled fuel and were hit by secondary blasts.

In 2019, a tanker explosion in eastern Tanzania killed 85 people, while around 50 people were killed in a similar disaster in Democratic Republic of Congo in 2018.

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