JUBA SEPTEMBER, 18 2015(CISA)-More than 170 people have died in South Sudan when a crashed oil tanker exploded as a crowd siphoned up spilled fuel on September 17.
Officials stated that the tanker veered off the road in Maridi, Western Equatorial state, and local residents were siphoning off the fuel when the vehicle exploded.
The death toll has since risen from the initial toll of about 50 people at the time of the explosion as more wounded victims succumb due to high degree burns.
“Then an explosion occurred which led to the death of 55 people in the beginning, and has now risen to 176 people, and many others are in critical condition at Maridi hospital,” Local government director, John Saki told South Sudan’s Gurtong news website.
Local authorities reported that explosion was ignited when someone lit a cigarette while residents siphoned petrol leaking from the full tanker.
Around 50 people have been seriously injured.
“We don’t have medical equipment and these people may not survive because we do not have the facilities to treat the highly burnt people,” Saki told the Gurtong news, adding the truck had been travelling from the capital Juba to the Western Equatoria area.
Doctors have described how they are struggling to cope with limited supplies to treat severe burns, including a lack of painkillers
Layal Horanieh, spokeswoman for the International Committee of the Red Cross in the South Sudanese capital of Juba, said the aid group has sent two burn kits to Maridi, each with enough equipment to treat at least 50 patients.
Deadly fuel tanker explosions are common in East Africa, where poor residents living near highways converge around fuel tankers involved in accidents to steal gas and then sell it.
Other badly burned bodies have also been found around the wreckage of the tanker. Those visiting the wounded in the hugely overstretched hospital in Maridi described horrific scenes.