Tanzania: 75 dead in fuel tanker explosion

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The death toll from a fuel truck explosion in Tanzania rose to 75 on Monday as four more people succumbed to their injuries, a hospital official said.

“We deplore four new deaths. Their bodies are currently resting at the morgue while we wait for relatives to identify them,” said Aminiel Aligaesha, spokesperson for the country’s national hospital in the economic capital, Dar es Salaam.

Funeral services which began on Sunday were expected to continue on Monday as the country concluded a period of national mourning declared by President John Magufuli.

The explosion took place Saturday morning near the town of Morogoro, about 200km west of Dar es Salaam.

The dead were trying to collect leaking petrol from the overturned tanker.

Witnesses said the truck tipped over as it tried to avoid a motorcycle, and locals quickly converged on the scene to collect fuel.

The explosion was triggered when a man tried to retrieve the truck’s battery, creating sparks that ignited the fuel, officials said.

It was the latest in a string of such disasters in Africa and at least the third this year.

Last month, 45 people were killed and more than 100 injured in central Nigeria when a petrol tanker crashed and then exploded as people tried to take the fuel. In May, a similar incident in Niger killed nearly 80 people.

Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa said Sunday that of 59 people injured in the Tanzania explosion, 43 had been transferred to the national hospital in Dar es Salaam while the rest were receiving treatment in Morogoro.

Aligaesha said Monday that the remaining 39 patients at the national hospital were “doing better” and that medical staff were “striving to provide them with the best possible care”.

Morogoro governor Stephen Kebwe said the 16 patients there were also improving.