At least 99 people have been killed following a massive explosion when a fuel tanker collided with a lorry in Sierra Leone’s capital, Freetown. Fuel spilled before igniting and the resulting inferno engulfed bystanders and vehicles at a busy junction. Footage broadcast by local media outlets showed badly charred bodies in the streets surrounding the tanker. Some 92 people are being treated in hospitals and health centers around Freetown, some of which are said to be critical. After visiting the scene, Vice-President Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh said it was a national disaster. He said that the injured would receive free medical treatment.
The explosion is believed to have happened at a junction outside the busy Choithram Supermarket in the densely populated Wellington suburb in the east of the city at around 22:00 GMT on Friday. Sierra Leone’s National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) said the vehicles collided when the tanker was entering a nearby filling station to discharge its fuel. The drivers, noticing a leak, exited their vehicles and warned people to stay away. The explosion occurred when people tried to collect the fuel, the NDMA said.