Fuel truck explodes in Haitian city, killing at the minimum 60 people

Fuel truck explodes in Haitian city, killing at the minimum 60 people




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Issued on: 14/12/2021 – 17:32

at the minimum 60 people were killed when a gas tanker truck exploded in the Haitian city of Cap-Haitien on Tuesday morning, a local official said, with overwhelmed medics saying the toll was feared to rise. 

The blast is the latest disaster to hit the poverty-wracked Caribbean nation, where violent gangs have triggered crippling fuel shortages by choking off supply, and the president’s assassination five months ago has however to be elucidated.

“We have now counted 60 deaths,” Deputy Mayor Patrick Almonor said, adding that authorities were nevertheless searching for additional victims amid the charred debris in Cap-Haitien, Haiti’s second-largest city, on the northern coast. 

Almonor earlier described a horrific scene at the blast site, saying he had seen more than 50 people “burned alive” and that it was “impossible to clarify them.”

The truck is believed to have flipped over after the driver lost control while swerving to avoid a motorcycle taxi, Almonor said.

Fuel spilled onto the road and pedestrians seemingly rushed to collect the tanker’s gas, a precious commodity as Haiti grapples with a harsh fuel shortage caused by the tightening grip of criminal gangs on the capital, Port-au-Prince.

Almonor said around 20 houses in the area were also set ablaze, but that no details were however obtainable on possible victim numbers inside the homes.

Nearby Justinien University Hospital was overwhelmed with patients.

“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. 

A doctor at the hospital told local radio stop Magik9 that two people had died there and that 40 other patients were seriously injured. 

“The people are burned on more than 60 percent of their body,” she said.

Haitian chief Minister Ariel Henry decreed a period of national mourning following the explosion he said had left dozens of people injured.

“I learned with sadness and emotion the terrible news of the explosion of a gas tanker last night in Cap-Haitien,” Henry 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.” 

Henry promised field hospitals would be rapidly deployed to help care for the blast victims.

J’ai appris, avec désolation et émoi, la triste nouvelle de l’explosion, hier soir, au Cap-Haïtien, d’un camion citerne qui transportait de l’essence et qui a causé, selon un bilan partiel, une quarantaine de morts, des dizaines de blessés, ainsi que d’importants dégâts matériels

— Dr Ariel Henry (@DrArielHenry) December 14, 2021

Fuel crisis

The Caribbean nation has never produced enough electricity to meet the needs of the whole population. already in well-off parts of the capital, the state-run Haiti electric utility only provides, at most, a few hours of strength a day.

Those who can provide it rely on pricey generators, which are no help in the confront of the harsh fuel shortage caused by gangs blocking access to the country’s oil terminals in the capital and its outskirts.

In recent months more than a dozen vehicles transporting fuel have been attacked by gangs demanding ransoms for the drivers’ release.

Demonstrators took the streets as recently as Monday protesting the resulting rise in gasoline prices. 

The without of fuel is also damming up water access, in a country where many people rely on private companies to deliver water by truck to at-home systems.

And with no guarantee of steady strength or water supply, health care providers have been forced to drastically cut back their sets.

Chronically-unstable Haiti was also plunged into a new political crisis with the assassination of the late president, Jovenel Moise, in July. 

Four senior Haitian law enforcement officials have been detained and several dozen arrested in connection with the investigation.

But five months after Moise’s assassination, doubts keep over who ordered the attack, during which not a single police officer guarding the president was injured. 

(AFP)

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