Death toll from Sierra Leone’s fuel tanker blast rises to 144

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The blast from a fuel tanker that blew up in Sierra Leone’s capital of Freetown earlier this month has now claimed 144 lives, authorities said Monday.

“The toll from the explosion has risen to 144 dead and 57 patients who are being treated, 11 of whom are in critical condition,” Lamarana Bah, head of communications at the National Disaster Management Agency, told AFP.

Medics from Italy, Liberia and the World Health Organization have arrived in the country to help treat the injured, Bah added.

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The disaster happened when a lorry crashed into a fuel tanker on November 5 in an industrial area of Freetown.

A crowd gathered to try to scoop up leaking fuel but the tanker then blew up, engulfing them in a fireball.

A former British colony of 7.5 million people, Sierra Leone is one of the poorest countries in the world, despite mineral wealth that includes diamonds.

Its economy is still struggling with the aftermath of a 1991-2002 civil war that left 120,000 dead and the impact of an Ebola epidemic that struck three West African countries from 2013-16, followed by COVID-19 last year.

Read more: Oil tanker explodes in Sierra Leone’s capital leaving over 90 dead, 100 injured

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