Fuel tanker explosion kills dozens in the far east of Freetown

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 06 November 2021:

Dozens of people were killed last night in Wellington – the far east of Sierra Leone’s capital Freetown, when a fuel tanker exploded – burning houses, vehicles and those trying to scoop fuel from the tanker before it exploded.

Hundreds of people are believed to have suffered life threatening injuries from the explosion. Many people are said to have been trapped in their cars and poda-podas, unable to escape when the tanker exploded.

It is not clear what caused the explosion, but some reports say that the tanker was involved in a collision with another vehicle, which prompted nearby residents to come out with rubber containers and jerry cans to collect fuel from the tanker before it exploded.

Most of the injured were taken to the 34 Military hospital and the Connaught hospital for emergency treatment. Private hospitals in and around the capital are said to be helping in receiving people badly burnt from the explosion.

Vice President Juldeh last night visited some of the hospitals where he saw doctors and nurses doing their best under very difficult conditions – with little resources and equipment to provide care for the injured.

Although officers of the country’s National Disaster Management Agency arrived at the scene along with the police, there was no sign of fire engines, prompting the usual condemnation of the fire service which many say is unfit for purpose.

Speaking to the media, Vice President Juldeh Jalloh who is acting on behalf of President Bio who is currently out of the country, said that he had counted over 70 people taken to both Connaught and 34 Military hospitals in Freetown.

He also visited the mortuary at Connaught hospital where he saw the dead being prepared for identification.

Today as the people of Sierra Leone mourn the death of their fellow citizens, questions are being asked as to why people would ignore the huge risk to their lives, trying to scoop fuel from a tanker that has been involved in an accident and likely to explode. Is it abject poverty, illiteracy, or lawlessness?

Speaking about the disaster this is what Dr Kandeh Yumkella who will be making a full statement about this tragic incident at a London townwhall meeting tonight, said:

11 Comments

  1. Let me take a deep breath and contribute to the fire disaster that took place weeks ago. I pray for the souls of the deceased to rest in peace. It is high time for the government of President Bio to put science and technology at the forefront of safety and security in Sierra Leone. Let me thank President Bio for establishing the DSTI. My sincere thanks to Dr David Sengeh also. What happened(the fire incident) weeks ago should have been prevented or the casualties minimised if specific installations should have been in place. President Bio promised to set up an investigating committee to investigate the problem and report their findings to him, which is an excellent idea. But such a commission should have members from the Police, Military, DSTI, Vehicle Examiners office and the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Any report without taking science and innovation into consideration will be fruitless. It will happen again. As for technology, smart cameras should be positioned in certain areas to monitor what is going around.

    If, for example, there were smart cameras in that area monitored by the police or any other department; then the reaction to disperse the crowd gathered around the tanker from arms way should have been swift. I recommend that the budgets of departments like the DSTI, vehicle examiners office, the ministry of health, and internal affairs increase to build up their science, innovation, and technology capacity for our internal safety and security.

    Finally, I would urge the DSTI to find technical and scientific solutions to any catastrophe or disaster(mudslide, flooding etc,) that happens in the country. If the DSTI can’t find solutions because of limited experts, staff or workload, they could ask for help through their website so that Sierra Leoneans can help with ideas. Presently, Sierra Leone’s standing on science, technology and innovation is excellent. That is good news for President Bio and the DSTI. Finally, let me once again thank President Bio, Dr David Sengeh and his team for making our country West Africa’s Science, innovation and technology hub.

  2. You are absolutely right, Santhikie Sorie. ‘A bloodless revolution’, as you so aptly frame it, is what our country needs to dump in the dustbin of history APC’s and SLPP’s stranglehold on its governance. A wholesale revolution of hearts and minds indeed, whereby sixty years or so of political asphyxiation are held in check for keeps! Our country owes its very survival to that seismic change in political behaviour and direction. True, the NGC has the potential to spearhead that revolution, becoming as it were the third, alternative political force we so cruelly lack. The calibre of those leading the party does inspire confidence. Dr Yumkella’s parliamentary performances and successes (limited though they may be at the moment) combined with party leader Dr Bright’s detailed, precise and clear-headed regular examination of the Bio administration’s economic misgovernance and its impacts on the lives of ordinary men, women and children, speak volumes about what might very positively await the country were voters to give the party the keys to State House.

    The reality of basic, straightforward facts of electoral mathematics cannot however be gainsaid or wished away. NGC having currently no more than four MPs all of whom are from Kambia District obviously means it lacks the weight and presence needed to gain executive power. And the strategies it must device to gain a foothold, grow and thrive in every other district and region remain to be seen. And the electoral base of another important minor party – C4C – is equally very narrow, Kono being the one and only district in which it is present. And even if the two parties were to join forces and form a much broader coalition, the resulting union would yield at most twelve MPs – a figure still short of the numbers needed to form a government.

    One solution to this impasse of the APC/SLPP duopoly lies as I have noted with the electorate – its choosing to vote en masse for a party or parties other than the APC and SLPP. Another way forward might well be a radical change in direction – a bloodless revolution of sorts – within the two major parties themselves. Let us assume for the sake of argument that such a fundamental political transformation is possible. It will usher in an era of new politics and a new breed of politicians – men and women for whom nation and its well-being become front and centre of their concerns, thoughts and actions. In that case, allegiance to region and ethnicity though still important and desirable will unlikely degenerate into a force for evil, for divisions and antagonisms. Rather, it will become a force for good if harnessed to promote inter-regional and inter-ethnic (and so national) harmony, solidarity, inclusivity, cohesion and unity. We need a new brand of politics and a new breed of politicians to do it, that is, a bloodless revolution leading to the birth of a new major political force or a dynamic, revitalized SLPP and APC, attentive to the needs of a diverse, pluralistic, democratic but no less united twenty-first century Sierra Leone. Such a country will then be in a position to rise to all challenges under the sun, including disasters, be these natural and/or man-made.

  3. Dauda Yillah, your abridged piece of how prone our nation has become to disaster, and hence human suffering, is like the balance sheet of a business which summarises everything about the business. If you want to know at a glance whether the business is doing well or going down the drain the balance sheet should provide the irrefutable answer. The question is, what have we gone wrong? Are we cursed ? Is the poor leadership which we keep saddling ourselves with part of curse ? Most of the countries in the sub-region are showing signs of hope except us. We are the only ones with a leader who doesn’t know that deforestation is taking place in his country. We are the only ones with a leader who believe that cleaning gutters is the way forward to solving the climate problem. We are the only ones with a leader who takes to the dancing floor abroad to address a fire disaster. For heaven’s sake, does blood and oxygen flow into the man’s head ?

    I have always held that we need a bloodless revolution in our dear country, a revolution of thought, where we bring APC and SLPP into sharp focus and ask the most important question in our history: After more than sixty years of independence, what have these two parties done for us other than perpetrate lies, thievery and deception ? Answering the question in this manner should make us execute the revolution by dumping both SLPP and APC in favour of NGC and Kandeh Yomkella. I do recall, Dauda Yilla, when contributing to another headline some time ago, you said that un-sitting the two parties carried a low probability. But we should not be dissuaded, otherwise some of us may fall victim to superstition ,that they (the two major parties) are our curse, and so Allah/God is punishing us for not using the senses which He gave us for free to remove them

  4. Inna Lallahi Wa Inna llayhi Rajjon. Indeed,we belong to Allah and we have to return to him. May the Almighty continue to comfort the victims of this disaster, and forgives us for our mistakes.
    May the Almighty also continue to bless bless us with Wisdom and Understanding so that we can learn from our mistakes. AMEEN AND AMEN.

  5. “Death is the necessary end, it will come when it comes”. This tragic incident signifies how nature works. No one will have to predict how and when he/she will die. It is time for reflection on what we do, how we relate to ourselves and why we act in a manner that we believe is best for us.

    To the bereaved family I extend my empathy. To the public, I ask that we stop blaming our authorities for they themselves had no knowledge about death.

    May the soul of the departed rest in peace, Amen.

  6. Clearly something is fundamentally wrong with our country. Whether Sierra Leone is a well oiled functioning state, that entails all the features of a state that provides security and peace of mind for all of us, or Sierra Leone is a state only in name. How do we avoid this sort of depressing stories both man made or natural disasters? The simple answer which is not so simple as its sounds, if only we have a well governing transparent structure in place, where by every individual citizen of the state of Sierra Leone play by the rules. In the absence of that as we’ve has so often witness this unfortunate disasters are becoming a regular reoccurrence. It all boils down to the role of the state towards its citizens and those entrusted to look after the welfare of the people, how much commitment are there in executing those powers and responsibilities given to them by us. It all comes back to corruption and its effects in our society and country as a whole.

    If there was no corruption, during the EBOLA outbreaks, our government at the time would have taken the necessary steps to close the borders of our country immediately to restrict the movement of people in the Eastern part of the country. There by reducing the number of infections rates amongst us. Same with the 2014 and more recently the flash flooding in which more than five hundred people lost their lives. Unregulated urban planning and cutting down of our trees were blamed. And the unregulated Timber trade cast a dark shadow over those natural disasters. Now this latest horror story to hit our country, some might blame it on the collusion of the tank driver and an other vehicle. But we forgot about how diabolical our road networks are condemned as not fit for purpose.

    Lack of opportunities for the youths, and a government that is prepared to pay millions to buy SUVS and military hardware we don’t necessarily need, but was not prepared to buy fire trucks to service a city of one million people, tells you all you want to know, how our country has become a faild state. Even a BANANA REPUBLIC can afford Fire trucks.
    .

  7. We are for God and to Him we shall return, it will take a definite time to be forgotten about this tragedy. Anyway my fellow Sierra Leonean, the most and foremost advice I can give to you is, whenever accident occurred, let our first priority be to help the victims, the wounds or injured and the dead. We sympathize with the victims instead of going after their properties. We can understand that, this accident met some victims in the wrong place at the wrong time, may their souls rest in peace. Gasoline fuel tanker is dangerous can be explode at any time, this is typical example now. We have to be very careful, in to some developed countries when an accident happens or occurred, only the professional authorities are allowed in the scene, like fire fighters, police and crimes investigators how it happens and why. Yellow tape has to be used in the place of accident, no none professional or an ordinary individual should allow to be there. But on the other hand, people rushed in to vandalize the victims properties instead, that’s unacceptable.

    I thanked both president Bio and our Vp Juldeh for their great concerns about the alleged victims that’s the most important. For the president and his teams to walked all the way to the Cannought hospital to visit the victims, we are proud of them all. My fellows this is a national tragic, let’s all pray to God to keep this kind of tragedy far away from us, not to be repeated again. May their souls rest in peace. Amen..

  8. “Today as the people of Sierra Leone mourn the death of their fellow citizens, questions are being asked as to why people would ignore the huge risk to their lives, trying to scoop fuel from a tanker that has been involved in an accident and likely to explode. Is it abject poverty, illiteracy, or lawlessness?”

    This was an uncalled for conclusion to the article, which itself states that many victims for starters were trapped in their cars and buses, and unable to escape in time when the tanker exploded. The question now should be what regulations cover the operations of fuel tankers in the city. Should such vehicles be allowed to pass through densely populated residential areas, as per the BBC report, and at what times of the day should they be on the road, to make their collision with other vehicles less likely, and less catastrophic in the instances they do occur? My heart goes out to the victims and their families.

  9. What next, my people, country and capital city? What else awaits you? Are you so prone to misfortune that every so often you are fated to endure apocalyptic occurrences, natural or man-made? Less than a decade ago, Ebola struck for the first time, with indescribable virulence, causing thousands of fatalities. And while the people and country were still reeling from the effects of that epidemical horror show, the terrible mudslide of 2017 happened. To be followed in March this year by a horrendous inferno at Susan’s Bay. And now this harrowing and soul-destroying collision between a petrol tanker and another vehicle in the Wellington area, leaving over a hundred people dead and counting. Never mind of course what have become unavoidable and predictable seasonal inundations of our capital city, reminiscent of the Genesis flood narrative.

    May those who have died over the years rest in perfect peace. And commiserations to those who have lost loved ones. As regards victims who have sustained life changing injuries, I wish you every possible form of recovery and may Allah ease your sufferings.

    The frequency and lethality of these tragic occurrences leave me speechless. Allah, only you can truly help us now. Those we have chosen to govern us have over the years proven to be at a complete loss when it comes to creating the conditions that should at the very least take the sting out of these disasters when they occur, if not rid us of them completely; disasters some of which are clearly man-made and so preventable.

  10. What a horrible tragedy to hit our nation. May the souls of those who lost their lives rest in peace. And we pray for the injured for quick recovery. Also we pray for the bereaved families that have lost their loved ones that the whole of the Sierra Leone family is with them and is grieving with them for their losses.

  11. Father, I comit the dead and those injured in your care. Have your way Lord and instill in us that sense of discipline to know risky situations that we can avoid in times of crisis.

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