At least 50 people were killed when a fuel truck exploded in a street in Haiti‘s second-largest city Cap-Haitien during the night, the city mayor said on Tuesday.
The local hospital was stretched trying to treat the many injured, Mayor Pierre Yvrose told Reuters.
“So far the situation is critical because there are already about 50 dead bodies,” he said. “We need human resources, and also material resources, namely, serum, gauze, and anything that can be used in case of serious burns.”
The total number of injured was not yet known.
The truck carrying gasoline overturned around midnight in the area of Samari on the eastern end of Cap-Haitien, according to local media.
Fuel deliveries across Haiti only resumed last month after a blockade by gangs who for nearly a month prevented trucks from loading at the main fuel ports. Many businesses were forced to shut down.
As rescue workers cleaned up in the aftermath of the explosion, bodies covered in white sheets lay on the ground before they were loaded on to trucks to be taken away.
The blast also damaged the fronts of houses and shops in the street and charred motorbikes and cars, Reuters journalists said.
“I learned, with desolation and emotion, the sad news of the explosion, last night, in Cap-Haitien, of a tanker truck which transported gasoline,” Prime Minister Ariel Henry wrote on Twitter.
The government declared three days of mourning for the dead.
The United Nations office in Haiti said it stood ready to help the national authorities in its response and offered its condolences to the families of the victims.
Gangs have grown more powerful since the July assassination of President Jovenel Moise, which created a political vacuum and allowed criminal groups to expand their territory.
Copyright 2021 Thomson/Reuters