Search icon


06th Nov 2021

At least 92 dead after oil tanker explosion in Sierra Leone

Charlie Herbert

Sierra Leone explosion

The explosion happened in Sierra Leone’s capital, Freetown.

At least 92 people have died after a fuel tanker exploded in Sierra Leone.

The oil tanker collided with a lorry in the country’s capital, Freetown, causing fuel to spill out. This then ignited, with the resulting inferno engulfing bystanders and vehicles at a busy junction.

The BBC reports that the explosion happened at a junction outside the busy Choithram Supermarket in the Wellington suburb in the east of the city at around 22:00 GMT on Friday.

Harrowing footage on social media shows the devastation after the incident, with charred bodies in the streets, and many more suffering horrific burns.

One local news report said that a bus full of people was completely burnt, while nearby shops and stalls were caught up in the flames.

The state-run morgue is reported to have received more than 90 bodies and some 100 people are being treated in hospitals and health centres around the city.

In a tweet, the country’s president Julius Maada Bio, said he was “deeply disturbed” by the incident and that the government will “do everything to support affected families.”

The mayor of the city, Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr tweeted: “Deeply saddened to hear about the explosion along Bai Bureh Road, Wellington, after a bowser carrying fuel collided with a truck. My sympathies go to the families and loved ones of the victims of the explosion. May the souls of the departed rest in perfect peace.”

London mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted his condolences to those affected by the tragedy, writing: “Devastating news about the oil tanker explosion in Freetown, Sierra Leone. London’s thoughts and prayers are with everyone in your city @yakisawyerr.”

Freetown is home just over a million people and has experienced a number of disasters in recent years.

In March this year, more than 80 people were injured in a major fire in one of Freetown’s slums, leaving more than 5,000 displaced.

In 2017, over 1,000 people lost their lives after heavy rains led to a mudslide that swept through the city. This left an estimated 3,000 people homeless.