Oil Tanker Explosion Kills Over 100 in South Sudan
More than a 100 people have been reportedly killed and 50 more injured after an oil tanker explosion in South Sudan on Wednesday.
More than 170 have been killed according to some sources and regional officials told one news source that the injured may not survive.
The exact cause of the explosion is yet to be confirmed, but reports are emerging that a lit cigarette sparked the blast after the tanker veered off the road. Local residents were attempting to siphon fuel from the vehicle when someone is believed to have lit a cigarette, causing the explosion.
Locals seize chance to siphon fuel
The tanker was en route to South Sudan’s Western Equatoria region from the capital Juba when it veered off the road and overturned. The driver reportedly made his way to the nearest town to seek help, but locals quickly surrounded the vehicle to collect what fuel they could.
Attention now turns to the injured as medical services struggle to cope with the incident. Charles Kisanga, the minister of information in Western Equatoria told Reuters: “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.”
The exact number of people injured in the explosion remains unknown as many are believed to have fled the scene after the incident happened.
Another tanker explosion in East Africa
It’s not the first time a fuel tanker has exploded in the East African region, where drivers have to navigate long journeys on difficult roads. In 2013 over 30 people were killed and scores injured when a broken-down fuel tanker exploded on a highway in Uganda. Once again, locals were attempting to siphon fuel from the vehicle.
South Sudan is one of Africa’s poorest nations and highway infrastructure is among the worst on the continent. With very few tarmac roads oil tankers have no choice but to make their long journeys across potholed roads and face locals more than willing to siphon fuel when the opportunity arises.