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At least four die in fuel tanker explosion in western Kenya

09-21-2011 15:46 BJT

BUSIA, Kenya, Sept. 21 (Xinhua) -- At least four people died and 37 others were injured after an overturned fuel tanker burst into flames along Kisumu-Busia highway in western Kenya on Tuesday night.

Busia police chief Erasthus Muthamia confirmed the incident on Wednesday, saying the deceased were burnt beyond recognition and seven others severely injured after the oil tanker lost control and plunged into a ditch near Suwo River Bridge. "The incident took place at 9:30 pm (1830 GMT) near Mundika market when an oil tanker which was ferrying fuel to Busia overturned. The fire was caused by people who were trying to steal a battery while siphoning fuel from the tanker," Muthamia said. "We have rushed the injured to hospitals, who are currently undergoing treatment with severe burns," he said. Rescue operations were ongoing and police have sealed off the scene to facilitate operations.

However, eye witnesses said that the rescue operations were hampered by lack of fire brigade services.

In Nairobi, Police Commissioner Mathew Itere confirmed the Busia incident happened around 9:30 pm and it involved a tanker which was traveling from the lakeside city of Kisumu, heading to Kampala, Uganda to deliver super petrol. "I can confirm that we have lost four people who have been burnt beyond recognition in the Kisumu-Busia highway," he told a press conference in Nairobi.

Itere said the driver lost control of the vehicle before rolling several times near the Suwo River Bridge, about four kilometers from Busia town near the border with Uganda.

The driver left the scene and reported the accident to the nearby police when an explosion followed by a ball of flames.

The latest incident came barely a week after more than 100 people lost their lives while more than 40 others seriously injured at a Nairobi slum while scooping fuel from a Kenya Pipeline Corporation depot.

Fuel leaks and oil tanker accidents in Kenya often draw huge crowds scrambling to scoop fuel, resulting in many deaths due to accidental fires. In 2009, 122 people were killed after a fire erupted while they were drawing fuel from an overturned tanker in western Kenya.

Editor:Wang Xiaomei |Source: Xinhua

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