Tanzania Buries Dozens Killed in Fuel Tanker Blast

The charred remains of motorcycle taxis at the scene of the oil tanker blast in Morogoro.

Tanzania has laid to rest most of the people who died after an explosion involving an overturned fuel tanker. The victims had been collecting fuel from the tanker after it crashed.

Tanzania has laid to rest most of the 71 people who died in a fuel tanker explosion on Saturday in the town of Morogoro, situated some 200 kilometers (120 miles) west of the main economic hub of Dar es Salaam.

On Sunday, white coffins were lowered into graves by members of the security forces, after which Islamic or Christian clerics said brief prayers. President John Magufuli has declared a period of mourning through Monday.

At the time of the explosion, people were trying to collect leaking petrol from an overturned fuel tanker. Witnesses said the truck tipped over as it tried to avoid a motorcycle, and locals quickly converged on the scene. The explosion was triggered when a man tried to retrieve the truck's battery, creating sparks that ignited the fuel, according to the region's governor.

Footage from the scene showed the truck engulfed in smoke and flames, with charred bodies and the burnt-out remains of motorcycle taxis scattered on the ground among scorched trees. The deadly blast is the latest in a series of similar disasters in Africa.

Repeated disasters

President Magufuli has called for people to stop stealing fuel, a common event across Africa, saying he was "very shocked" by the dangerous practice.

In July, 45 people were killed and more than 100 injured in central Nigeria when a tanker crashed and exploded as people tried to take the fuel. In May, a similar incident occurred in Niger near the airport of the capital, Niamey, killing almost 80 people.

Among the deadliest such disasters, 292 people lost their lives in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in July 2010, and in September 2015 at least 203 people died in an accident in the South Sudan town of Maridi.

(AFP, AP)

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