Tanzania was in mourning yesterday, preparing to bury 69 people who perished when a crashed fuel tanker exploded as crowds rushed to syphon off leaking petrol.
President John Magufuli declared a period of mourning through today following the deadly blast near the town of Morogoro, west of Dar es Salaam. He was represented at the funerals by Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa, an official statement said.
“We’re currently mourning the loss of 69 people, the last of whom died while being transferred by helicopter to the national hospital in Dar es Salaam,” Majaliwa told residents in comments broadcast on Tanzanian television.
The number of injured stood at 66, he said. The burials will start Sunday afternoon, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Jenista Mhagama announced during the morning after relatives identified the dead.
“The preparations for the burials have been completed. Individual graves have been dug and the coffins are ready,” Mhagama said, adding that experts were available to offer psychological counselling to the victims’ relatives.
DNA tests would be carried out on bodies that were no longer recognizable, Mhagama said, adding that families could take the remains of their loved ones and organize their own burials if they preferred.
In the latest in a series of similar disasters in Africa, 39 seriously hurt patients had been taken to hospital in Dar es Salaam while 17 others were being treated in Morogoro, 200 kilometers (125 miles) west of the economic capital of Tanzania.
Footage from the scene showed the truck engulfed in flames and huge clouds of black smoke, with charred bodies.
The burnt-out remains of motorcycle taxis lie scattered on the ground among scorched trees. A video posted on social media showed dozens of people carrying yellow jerricans around the truck.