MONROVIA, Liberia: More than 40 people were feared dead in a tanker explosion following a crash in central Liberia, said the country’s chief medical officer on Wednesday.
A tanker carrying gasoline crashed and overturned in a roadside ditch in Totota, about 130 kilometers from the capital, Monrovia.
Dr Francis Kateh told the local media that it was difficult to determine the number of victims as some were reduced to ashes, but he estimated that more than 40 people were killed in the crash.
“We have our team going from house to house to check those who are missing,” he told the media.
Police earlier put the death toll at 15 and said at least 30 people were injured as locals gathered at the site.
“There were many people who were burned,” said Prince B. Mulbah, deputy inspector general for the Liberian National Police.
Another police officer, Malvin Sackor, said that after the crash, some local residents had started collecting the leaking gas when the tanker exploded, killing some and injuring others.
He said police were still compiling the detail about total number of injured and killed.
— Nitish Verma (@nitsonnet) December 28, 2023
An eyewitness from Tototo, Aaron Massaquoi, told media that “people all climbed onto the truck and took the gas, while some of them had iron blows on the tank to make it burst, to get the gas.”
“People were all around the truck and the truck driver told them they could take the gas that was spilled,” Massaquoi said.
“He told them not to get on the tanker and that they should stop hitting the tanker … but some people even used screwdrivers to make holes in the tank.