According to a local authority, at least 50 people were murdered when a gas tanker exploded in the Haitian city of Cap-Haitien on Tuesday morning, with the death toll expected to grow.
“I saw on the scene between 50 and 54 people burned alive,” Deputy Mayor Patrick Almonor said. “It is impossible to identify them.”
Almonor also said “about 20” houses in the area were set ablaze by the explosion.
“We can’t yet give details on the number of victims inside the houses,” he said.
As the injured were transferred to the nearby Justinien University Hospital, the facilities became overburdened.
“We don’t have the ability to treat the number of seriously burned people,” a nurse told AFP.
“I’m afraid we won’t be able to save them all,” she said.
Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry said the explosion left “around 40 people” dead and dozens injured, as he decreed a period of national mourning.
“I learned with sadness and emotion the terrible news of the explosion of a gas tanker last night in Cap-Haitien,” he tweeted.
“Three days of national mourning will be decreed throughout the land, in memory of the victims of this tragedy which has devastated the whole Haitian nation,” he said.
Ariel stated that field hospitals would be quickly dispatched to assist in the care of bomb casualties.
According to Almonor, the truck driver appeared to lose control while swerving to avoid a motorbike taxi, causing the tanker to flip over.
Gasoline spilled down the road, according to Almonor, and people rushed to collect the tanker’s gas, which is currently in short supply as Haiti grapples with a chronic fuel scarcity caused by criminal gangs’ tightening grip on the capital, Port-au-Prince.
The Caribbean country has never been able to create enough power to suit the needs of its whole people. The state-run Haiti electric service barely delivers a few hours of power every day, even in well-off districts of the capital.
Citizens who get it depends on expensive generators, which are no assistance in the face of a severe fuel shortage resulting from gangs blocking entrance to the country’s oil facilities in the capital and its surroundings.