FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (AP) — Scores of people were feared dead near Sierra Leone’s capital Saturday after an oil tanker exploded while large crowds had gathered to collect leaking fuel, officials and witnesses said.
The explosion took place in the early hours after a bus struck the tanker in Wellington, a suburb just to the east of Freetown.
Video obtained by The Associated Press showed a giant fireball burning in the night sky following the explosion, as some survivors with severe burns cried out in pain. Charred remains of the victims lay strewn at the scene awaiting transport to mortuaries.
President Julius Maada Bio, who was in Scotland attending the United Nations climate talks Saturday, deplored the “horrendous loss of life.”
“My profound sympathies with families who have lost loved ones and those who have been maimed as a result,” he tweeted.
Vice President Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh visited two hospitals overnight and said tSierra Leone's National Disaster Management Agency and others would “work tirelessly" in the wake of the emergency.
“We are all deeply saddened by this national tragedy, and it is indeed a difficult time for our country,” he said on his Facebook page.
Associated Press writer Krista Larson in Dakar, Senegal, contributed.