At least 40 people were killed when a tanker truck exploded after crashing in central Liberia, the police said on Tuesday.
The tanker carrying gasoline crashed and fell into a ditch along a road in Totota, in Bong County, with police saying at least 30 more people were injured in the explosion as locals gathered at the scene.
“There were lots of people that got burnt. For now, we hold the number of deaths at 15,” said Prince B. Mulbah, deputy inspector general for the Liberia National Police.
Another police officer, Malvin Sackor, said that after the crash some locals started to take the leaking gas when the tanker exploded, killing some and wounding others.
He said that the police were still gathering the total number of injured and killed.
An eyewitness from Totota, Aaron Massaquoi, told AFP that “people climbed all on top of the truck taking the gas, while some of them had irons hitting the tanker for it to burst for them to get gas.”
“People were all around the truck and the driver of the truck told them that the gas that was spilling they could take that,” Massaquoi said.
“He told them not to climb on top of the tanker and that they should stop hitting the tanker…. but some people were even using screwdrivers to put holes on the tank.”
A health officer from Bong County, Cynthia Blapooh, told local newspaper Front Page Africa that there were some 36 critically ill patients, including children and a pregnant woman.