HAITI. Cap-Haïtien: A fuel tanker explosion in northern Haiti has killed more than 50 people, officials have reported.
The accident occurred late on Monday in Haiti’s second-largest city, Cap-Haïtien, where survivors rushed outside and yelled. Local hospitals have been overwhelmed by the casualties, while authorities are calling for additional supplies and staff to help treat the victims.
“We have now counted 60 deaths,” Deputy Mayor Patrick Almonor said on Tuesday. Meanwhile, authorities were still searching for victims amid the charred debris.
Almonor said that the truck driver lost control as it swerved to avoid a motorcycle taxi when the tanker flipped over. He said fuel spilled onto the road and the victims tried to gather leaking fuel when it ignited.
The explosion burned about 20 homes near the site, and more than 100 people were reported injured. Almonor said that the number of deaths is expected to rise after counting the ones who died in their homes.
Almonor on visiting the site of the blast told reporters that the victims were so brutally charred, they were impossible to identify.
The government has been deploying field hospitals in the affected areas to help people.
Mayor Pierre Yvrose said that human resources, material resources like serum, gauze, or anything that can be used in case of serious burns would be required.
Prime Minister Ariel Henry declared three days of mourning as the entire Caribbean nation was grieving after the accident.
On Tuesday, his Twitter read: “I learned, with desolation and emotion, the sad news of the explosion last night in Cap-Haïtien.”
The incident comes as Haiti faces the challenge of fuel shortages and spiralling gas prices, caused in part by armed gangs that have set up blockades at fuel terminals in the capital, Port-au-Prince, and the neighbouring areas.
Following the July assassination of President Jovenel Moise, gang violence and political instability have skyrocketed in Haiti. To make it worse, the country also has struggled to stand on its feet in the aftermath of a devastating, 7.2-magnitude earthquake in August.