57 dead in Tanzania fuel tanker explosion

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The scene of the tragedy

By BBC/AP

A damaged tanker truck exploded in eastern Tanzania Saturday as people were trying to siphon fuel out of it, killing at least 57, police said.

Regional police commissioner Steven Kabwe told the local Azam TV that many other people suffered burns in the explosion in the town of Morogoro.

The city of Morogoro is on a major route for transporting cargo and fuel from the port, which is the country’s commercial capital.

Pictures posted online show flaming wreckage scattered over a wide area and charred bodies lying on the ground.

Majority of the victims were motorcyclists who rushed to the scene to collect the oil gushing onto the road, according to eye witnesses.

Witnesses in the town, which lies about 120 miles (200 kilometers) from Tanzania’s economic hub of Dar es Salaam, told The Associated Press that scores of people had gathered around the fuel tanker after it was involved in an accident early Saturday.

The scene of the accident

They said people were trying to siphon away fuel when the tanker burst into flames.

The number of the dead is expected to rise.

Incidents of people being killed in explosions while stealing fuel from incapacitated tankers are common in East Africa.

In 2013, a similarly deadly incident killed at least 29 people on the outskirts of the Ugandan capital, Kampala, as scores swarmed around the scene of an accident.

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