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Oil Tanker Explodes In Sierra Leone, Killing At Least 98

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Early on Saturday, an oil tanker explosion has killed at least 98 people near Sierra Leone capital. The disaster happened after a bus struck the tanker at a petrol station in Wellington, a densely populated suburb east of Freetown. Videos showed a giant fireball burning into the sky following the explosion while survivors with severe burns cried out in pain.

The nation’s president, Julius Maada Bio, who is in Glasgow attending the UN COP26 climate summit, lamented the “horrendous loss of life.” He tweeted, “My profound sympathies with families who have lost loved ones and those who have been maimed as a result.” The National Disaster Management Agency’s (NDMA) director Brima Sesay stated, “It’s a terrible, terrible incident that we’ve never seen before. We’re here with first responders, the NDMA; we’re here, the police are here and we have so many casualties, burnt corpses. So I have spoken to the commander joint force; he is sending trucks so that we can move the corpses to the Connaught Hospital mortuary.”

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 fuel, witnesses said. It was not immediately known what caused the leaking fuel to ignite but a massive explosion soon followed.

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