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Fuel Tanker Explodes in Liberia, 40 Feared Dead

A fuel tanker has, in a tragic turn of events, killed over a dozen people and injured at least 30 others in Liberia. The country’s chief medical officer, Dr Francis Kateh, disclosed to a local broadcaster that it was difficult to ascertain the exact death toll due to some victims being reduced to ashes. Nevertheless, he estimated that over 40 individuals lost their lives to the incident.

The catastrophic event unfolded when the tanker veered off the road, tumbling into a ditch along a road in Totota. The scene is reported to be about 130 kilometers from Monrovia, the country’s capital. The tanker truck, filled with gasoline, had crashed and later exploded as residents tried to steal the gas leaking from it. Despite warnings from the truck’s driver, some residents persisted in exploiting the situation, even going as far as drilling holes in the vehicle to obtain more gas.

An eyewitness from Totota, Aaron Massaquoi, provided a harrowing account of the incident to AFP, a news agency. “People were all around the truck and the driver of the truck told them that the gas that was spilling, they could take that,” Massaquoi said.

“He told them not to climb on top of the tanker and that they should stop hitting the tanker…. but some people were even using screwdrivers to put holes in the tank.”

The unexpected explosion of the fuel truck killed some people and left some others who were gathered there injured. Initial reports from the police had cited 15 fatalities and at least 30 injuries. There were lots of people that got burned,” said Prince B. Mulbah, deputy inspector general for the Liberia National Police. Another police officer, Malvin Sackor, said that the police were still gathering the total number of injured and killed. The chief medical officer’s team is complementing the efforts by going from house to house to check those that are missing.

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