Freetown, SIERRA LEONE – In a devastating incident, 15 people lost their lives, and dozens sustained injuries in a fuel tanker explosion in Totota, Bong County, Liberia. The tragedy unfolded on Tuesday, December 26, 2023, when a fuel tanker crashed along a road, ultimately falling into a ditch.
A widely circulated video on social media captured the aftermath, showing the overturned fuel tanker with residents rushing to the scene, carrying empty containers, apparently attempting to collect leaking fuel. Reports indicate that some individuals even climbed on top of the tanker and used screwdrivers in an ill-fated attempt to puncture holes in the storage tank.
The situation took a tragic turn when a fire erupted, engulfing those in close proximity. The viral video captured harrowing scenes, including at least one person seen running away while engulfed in flames.
Deputy Inspector General of the Liberian Police Force, Prince B. Mulbah, confirmed the grim toll, stating, “For now, we hold the number of deaths at 15,” but acknowledged that numerous individuals suffered severe burns.
Reports indicate that 36 people have been hospitalized and are currently receiving medical treatment.
This tragic incident bears eerie similarities to a previous fuel tanker explosion in Freetown in November, 2021, when a similar accident claimed nearly 150 lives at Kissy Shell. In that instance, people rushed to gather leaking fuel, leading to a catastrophic explosion.
Reflecting on the recurring nature of such incidents, a Sierra Leonean who experienced the Freetown tragedy commented, “People do not learn.”
The community mourns the loss of lives, and authorities are likely to investigate the circumstances surrounding the crash and subsequent explosion to prevent future occurrences. KXL/28/12/2023