Disasters & Accidents

Death toll from Haiti fuel explosion climbs to 95

Port-au-Prince, Dec 23 (EFE).- The number of fatalities resulting from a Dec. 14 tanker truck accident in the northern Haitian city of Cap-Haitien has increased to 95, Deputy Mayor Patrick Almonord said Thursday.

“There were five new deaths,” he told Efe.

Fifteen people remain hospitalized with serious burns and “it’s possible” that the toll could rise further, Almonord said.

Families of the victims have been criticizing the Haitian government in the aftermath of Tuesday’s memorial service at the scene of the tragedy.

No representatives of the central government made the trip from Port-au-Prince for the occasion and the administration of Prime Minister Ariel Henry failed to provide any financial support.

Almonord acknowledged that the municipality was forced to take out a loan, while families of the dead had to come up with an additional 70,000 gourdes ($680) to pay for the ceremony.

The tanker truck flipped over in the wee hours of Dec. 14 while rounding a corner in the center of Cap-Haitien.

Around 100 residents tried to help themselves to the fuel in the overturned tanker, which had ended up in a ditch where someone was burning trash, witnesses told the National Network for Defense of Human Rights.

Besides those killed at the scene, the flames from the explosion and massive blaze that followed the contact between the spilled fuel and the trash fire reached people inside nearby homes.

The residents’ willingness to take the risk of approaching the truck is easier to understand in light of the more than 200 percent hike in prices of diesel and kerosene – used by many to light their homes – that took effect on Dec. 10.

And the price increases came in the wake of a months-long fuel shortage in the Western Hemisphere’s poorest nation. EFE mm/dr

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