At least 40 individuals have lost their lives following the explosion of a gas tanker in north-central Liberia, as disclosed by the country’s Chief Medical Officer, Francis Kateh, on Wednesday. Some locals rushed to the scene and seized the leaking gas from the tanker when it exploded. .
On late Tuesday, a fuel truck crashed in Totota, Lower Bong Country, approximately 130 kilometers (80 miles) from the capital, Monrovia. The explosion resulted in fatalities and injuries among those who had gathered at the scene, making it challenging to ascertain the number of victims, with some reduced to ashes.
“We have our team going from home to home to check on those that are missing,” Kateh informed the media.
Earlier, the police had reported a death toll of 15, stating that at least 30 others were injured as locals congregated at the scene.
“There were lots of people that got burned,” noted Prince B. Mulbah, deputy IGP for the Liberia National Police.
Following the crash on Tuesday, some locals took advantage of the leaking gas when the tanker exploded, as reported by another police officer, Malvin Sackor. He added that the police were still compiling the total number of injured and killed.
Eyewitness Aaron Massaquoi from Totota conveyed to the media: People climbed all on top of the truck, taking the gas, while some of them had irons hitting the tanker for it to burst for them to get gas.
“People were all around the truck, and the driver of the truck told them that the gas that was spilling, they could take that, but some people were even using screwdrivers to pit holes in the tank.” He said
Liberia’s President George Weah has expressed his condolences to the families of the dead, saying he found images of the tragedy “deeply disturbing”, his office says.
Mr Weah has given the health authorities his “full backing to beef up manpower and equipment where necessary in their frantic effort to save lives”, the statement adds.