At least 40 individuals lose their lives in the tragic fuel tanker explosion in Liberia.

Witnesses have reported that individuals climbed onto the vehicle to gather petrol after a tanker overturned on the roadside.

According to the country’s chief medical officer, more than 40 people have tragically lost their lives and many others have been severely burned due to an explosion caused by the petrol tanker in central Liberia.

Witnesses stated that people clambered onto the truck in an attempt to collect leaked petrol from its tank after it crashed and fell into a ditch near the town of Totota, about 130 kilometers (80 miles) away from the capital city of Monrovia on Tuesday.

A local resident named Aaron Massaquoi informed AFP that “some of them used irons to hit the tanker, causing it to burst so they could access the gas.”

“People surrounded the truck, and the truck driver told them they could take the spilling gas,” Massaquoi added. “He warned them not to climb on top of the tanker and to stop hitting it, but some people even used screwdrivers to puncture the tank.”

Establishing the accurate death toll has proven challenging due to the severe burns suffered by the victims, explained Liberia’s chief medical officer, Francis Kateh.

He informed AFP that his teams were conducting a thorough search to determine the number of missing individuals.

Liberia is ranked as the tenth poorest nation globally, with over half of its population of five million people living in extreme poverty.

President George Weah, a former AC Milan striker who is set to step down as the head of state on January 22nd, expressed his deepest condolences to the families of the victims.

The presidency stated, “So far, over 40 deaths have been confirmed. It has been reported that some locals in the area attempted to collect the contents of the trapped tanker when the explosion occurred.”

Initially, the police believed around 15 people had died and 30 others were injured, but the death toll has risen significantly since then. “There were numerous individuals who suffered burns,” stated Prince B Mulbah, deputy inspector general for the Liberia national police.

Another police officer, Malvin Sackor, disclosed that some locals were collecting the leaking petrol when the tanker exploded.

Chief medical officer Kateh mentioned that dozens of people had sustained severe burns.

Local health chief Cynthia Blapooh informed the newspaper Front Page Africa that among the “hardest-hit patients are children and a pregnant woman.”

“Numerous injured individuals from the incident have been transported to various hospitals,” confirmed the presidential statement.

“The President has expressed his full support to health authorities to enhance manpower and equipment as necessary in their urgent efforts to save lives.”

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