November 8, 2021
By David M. Aruna from Kalaba Town
Like the mudslide disaster in 2017 when piles of mutilated dead bodies were taken to the Connaught Mortuary in Freetown for identification by relatives, the city on Friday night was again inundated with news of a fire disaster at Wellington, where a fuel tanker exploded and killed over one hundred people with hundreds sustaining severe burnt wounds.
Station Manager at Leocom Filling Station, Amid Sesay, told Concord Times that the incident occurred at about 9:30 when a truck loaded with granite stone ran into an NP fuel tanker, which was taking a U-turn to head for Bo with fuel.
He narrated that some people in the vicinity took advantage of the situation and started hauling the fuel to their different homes, mostly using open containers like bucket.
He said the tanker driver advised people to leave the scene, telling them about the danger posed by the spilled petrol from the licked tanker, but to no avail.
“While on that the battery of the petrol tanker sparked and the tanker literally burst into flame that engulfed the entire area. The National Fire Force arrived later to savage the situation but the only concentrated on the next fuel station closer to the flaming tanker,” he said.
Meanwhile, the United Nations System in Sierra Leone issued out a statement on 6 November, mourning with the Government and people of Sierra Leone for the lost.
“The United Nations in Sierra Leone expresses its deepest condolences to the victims of the fuel tanker incident on Friday night, 05 November at the Wellington Industrial Estate Area in the outskirts of the capital Freetown. The latest figures indicate that over a hundred casualties, including over 90 deaths have been reported, and that number is expected to rise. The UN family wishes fortitude and peace to the bereaved families, and the Government and people of Sierra Leone in this period of grief.”
The UN family says it is closely monitoring the situation and stands ready to activate the necessary response to support the Government’s relevant emergency pillars to respond to the Friday night fire disaster at Wellington.
According to the National Disaster Management Agency, a total of 98 deaths were recorded while 92 victims were at various hospitals within Freetown.
“Of the total hospitalized victims suffering from varying degrees of burning, there are 48 at Connaught Hospital, 20 at 34 Military Hospital, 18 at Emergency Hospital and 6 at Choithram Hospital,” the agency states.