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Africa
Scores die in Kenyan oil blaze
More than 50 people killed after oil spill from lorry caught fire.
Last Modified: 01 Feb 2009 00:45 GMT

The government is facing criticism of poor firefighting infrastructure [Reuters]

More than 50 people have been killed in Kenya after an oil spill from a crashed lorry caught fire, officials said.

Another 82 people were also critically injured after hundreds of people had crowded round the lorry after it had crashed in the town of Molo, to collect the spilled oil, a local Red Cross official said.

"The people went to scoop up the oil, then something lit the fire, maybe someone dropped a cigarette," Titus Mung'ou, a Kenya Red Cross spokesman, said on Saturday.

Speaking from the scene, Hassan Noor Hassan, a provincial police commissioner in the Rift Valley said that he counted more than 50 charred bodies.

After the lorry careered off the road near the central town of Molo, motorbike riders and others descended on the vehicle in the hope of scooping up petrol, witnesses said.

Then the spill caught fire around dusk, engulfing those closest.

Rescuers said someone may have accidentally dropped a cigarette, although there was also a suspicion someone angered at being blocked by police may have started the fire on purpose.

Hundreds were still milling around the site on Saturday evening. Rescuers were helped by people with torches and car-lights.

"My two sons ran home, picked some jerry cans and ran to get some petrol. I tried to stop them but they did not listen, they told me everyone is going there for the free fuel," a woman said as she was trying to find her missing sons.

Poor safety

The disaster in Molo followed the deaths of at least 25 people in Nairobi when a supermarket caught fire earlier this week.

Local newspapers have criticised the government for poor safety.

After the supermarket blaze, the Daily Nation said Nairobi's three million inhabitants are served by just one fire station situated close to a traffic-choked business district.

Source:
Agencies
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