Over 90 people killed as oil tanker catches fire

February 1st, 2009 - 1:40 pm ICT by IANS  

Nairobi, Feb 1 (Xinhua) Over 90 people were burnt to death when a fuel tanker from which they were siphoning off petrol burst into flames near Molo town in northwest Kenya, the police said Sunday. Kenyan police said that at least 117 others sustained life-threatening burns in the explosion Saturday near Jolly Farm on the Nakuru-Eldoret highway.

A statement from the Kenyan police confirmed that 91 people were killed while 117 others were seriously injured when the fire broke out after hundreds of people gathered to collect the spilt fuel in the town of Molo. But witnesses said at least 110 people died in the explosion.

A huge traffic jam built up on both sides of the highway as police blocked off vehicles to avoid secondary accidents. A number of motorcycles and two vehicles also caught fire in the late evening inferno that attracted dozens of shocked onlookers.

Red Cross officials feared the death toll is expected to rise. The cause of the fire is not clear - some reports said it was caused by a lit cigarette, but others said it had been started deliberately.

One woman at the scene said her two sons had run to collect petrol after the tanker crashed and she had not been able to find them.

Rift Valley provincial commissioner Hassan Noor Hassan said that he had ordered 150 body bags to the scene in case the death toll went up.

Among the injured were police officers who had rushed to the scene after the petrol tanker tipped over.

“Police officers are on the ground investigating the incident,” police spokesman Eric Kiraithe said in a statement.

The incident comes just days after a devastating fire at a supermarket in the Kenyan capital Nairobi killed at least 25 people.

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