Fuel tanker blast in Sierra Leone capital causes deaths, injuries

A general view shows the city of Freetown in Sierra Leone July 22, 2005. The U.N. Security Council voted to extend its peacekeeping mission in Sierra Leone until December 31 and then shut it down following a decade of a brutal civil war. In a resolution, the 15-member council called for continued support for the West African nation's long-term development and a "seamless transition from peacekeeping to peacebuilding". The U.N. mission in Sierra Leone, established in October 1999, was once the world body's biggest peacekeeping force, numbering more than 17,000 troops. Picture taken July 18, 2005. REUTERS/Michael Dalder MAD/CP

A fuel tanker has exploded following a collision in the capital of Sierra Leone, causing numerous casualties, the mayor and media said, but exact figures were not known.

Several badly burned victims lay on the streets of Freetown as fire on Friday blazed through shops and houses nearby, social media images showed, although the Reuters news agency was not immediately able to independently verify the clips.

“The video and photo footage making rounds on social media are harrowing,” said Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, the of the port city. “There are rumours that more than 100 people have lost their lives.”

The blast after the collision with a truck claimed victims among those who had flocked to collect fuel leaking from the ruptured vehicle, she added in a posting on Facebook.

The extent of damage to property was as yet unknown, the mayor said, adding that police and her deputy were at the scene to assist disaster management officials.

“It is a terrible, terrible accident,” Brima Bureh Sesay, the chief of the National Disaster Management Agency, told a magazine.

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