In Summary
  • Videos shot by amateurs showed the moments when people were carrying buckets and jerricans towards the tanker.
  • Some are seen tapping the spilling fuel from the trenches and on the ground.
  • Soldiers from the Tanzania People’s Defence Forces thronged the area to carry out a rescue operation.

Dar es Salaam

It was at around 8.30am on Saturday when hell broke loose in the busy Tanzanian town of Morogoro, about 200 metres from the municipality’s Msamvu bus station.
Some residents of Morogoro town were seen pouring sand on their peers who had caught fire.

It was a scene of horror.

A fuel tanker, loaded with petrol and diesel heading from Dar es Salaam to Mafinga in Iringa Region, had overturned as it tried to avoid hitting a motorcyclist, before it hit a tree and later plunging into a busy street.

A security officer guards

A security officer guards the scene of the a fuel tanker explosion in Morogoro. PHOTO | STRINGER | AFP

RUSH TO SIPHON FUEL

As it is always the case in such incidents in Tanzania, people rushed close to the tanker to siphon fuel that was spilling over — not knowing that the nation would later sent into mourning.

Before the fire broke out — and perhaps when people were blissfully siphoning the fuel, videos shot by amateurs show the moments when women, men and young children were carrying buckets and jerricans towards the tanker.

Some are seen tapping the spilling fuel from the trenches and on the ground.

Some eyewitnesses say the spillage made some sort of a circle, in which people were entangled as they passionately collected the spilling fuel.

“I think this is why most people died,’’ says a man identified as Mr Joram who witnessed the incident in which over 64 people have died and 70 overs seriously injured.

UNABLE TO ESCAPE

“What happened is, people went into this circle and when fire broke out, they couldn’t escape easily. I think that’s why we have many who have died,” he said.

“The fuel actually spilled over into some homesteads. And when there was fire, it appears that the small kitchens around those homesteads made the fire spread to a wider area,’’ he said.

In less than one hour, the fire brigade arrived and began putting out the fire.

Soldiers from the Tanzania People’s Defence Forces thronged the area to carry out a rescue operation.

AFTERMATH

Then, when the fire was completely put out, images of the aftermath showed the area around the tanker littered with charred corpses and the burned-out wreckages of motorbikes.

The most affected, according to Morogoro Regional Police Commander Wilbrod Mutafungwa, were motorcyclists, popularly known as “bodaboda”, who were close and those who went to siphon the fuel.

Most of the victims were taken to Morogoro Regional Hospital and the bodies were preserved at the hospitals’ mortuary.

TRIGGER

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