Oil tanker explodes in Sierra Leone, killing at least 98

People gather around an oil tanker to collect leaking fuel before it exploded near Sierra Leone’s capital, killing at least 92 people and severely injuring dozens of others, officials and witnesses said Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021. The explosion took place late Friday after a bus struck the tanker in Wellington, a suburb just to the east of Freetown. (AP Photo) AP

An oil tanker truck exploded near Sierra Leone’s capital, killing at least 98 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 when the tanker collided with another truck as it was pulling into a gas station near a busy intersection in Wellington, just east of the capital of Freetown, according to the National Disaster Management Agency.

“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. In this deeply impoverished country, however, crowds still rushed in to scoop up the fuel, witnesses said.

It was not immediately known what caused the leaking fuel to ignite but a massive explosion soon followed. Video obtained by The Associated Press showed a giant fireball burning in the night sky as some survivors with severe burns cried out in pain. The charred remains of some victims lay strewn at the scene, awaiting transport to mortuaries.

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