Saturday, January 31, 2009

At least 113 people die in tragic tanker explosion in Molo (Kenya)

A collapsed tanker has exploded near Molo while people were collecting free fuel from it after it had had a road accident. At least 113 people have died and about 200 have been injured. A few of the injured have been discharged from hospital, but most of them remain admitted at the Rift Valley Provincial General Hospital (86) and the Molo District Hospital (31). Apparently, most of the victims are children and women. Local hospitals are overwhelmed and some of the victims have been airlifted to Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH). Among those killed and injured are some policemen who were trying to refrain the public from stealing fuel from the leaking tanker...

"The people went to scoop up the oil, then something lit the fire, maybe someone dropped a cigarette," Kenya Red Cross spokesman Titus Mung'ou told Reuters of the disaster. "More than 50 people have died." Dozens more sustained life-threatening burns in the explosion which occurred near Jolly Farm on the Nakuru-Eldoret highway at about 7.30 pm on Saturday. Two hours after the fire started there had not been an effort to put it out and a Sunday Nation writer could still see bodies burning away from a distance of about 50 metres.

"My two sons ran home, picked some jerrycans 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," said one distraught woman, who would not give her name. "Now I cannot trace them," she said, sobbing as she looked at the skull and bones of one corpse nearby.

An eye witness told the Sunday Nation that Officers from a nearby GSU camp were the first to arrive at the scene after the tanker crashed. According to the witness, the Officers began demanding a fee from those who wished to scoop petrol spilling from the tanker. “I heard someone saying that they were going to avenge the fee by starting a fire and left the scene fearing for my life,” the eyewitness said. “Moments later, I heard the explosion.” In the confusion a PSV bus driver lost control of his vehicle and crashed. It is suspected that some of those who burnt were passengers on the bus.

Oh my God, what a very sad week for Kenya! We had the Nakumatt Downtown fire blaze on Wednesday in which at least 48 people died according to some reports, and now we have this 'accident' in Molo where another 113 or more lives have been lost.

My prayers go to all the family and friends of those who lost their lives in these two extremely tragic events. 

Let's now all work urgently on disaster preparedness. This week was really too much to bear. Kenyans are angry. Kenyans are shocked. Kenyans are too desperate. Where are our brains? Why don't we ever learn from previous disasters? What are our lives really worth? My fellow blogger Mama has some interesting thoughts on what is wrong with us Kenyans.

P.S.: Relatives of missing persons can call +254 722 300701 or contact Red Cross officials on the ground on +254 720 460438 and +254 720 430455. 


Des said...

This is terribly sad.

Kirima said...

Trully horrible!
I'm pissed off by people who rush to scenes of accidents to loot and steal from the victims. When will kenyans ever learn to stay away from accident scenes? Unless they can be of help not just to satisfy curiosity?

kachwanya said...

Horrible week for Kenya. True Karima i have never understood how people become so excited in the scene of accidents, instead of thinking on how to save the victims their focus is on how to loot!

Mama said...

Rafiki, you are a dear.

I honestly have no idea what to say to the convalescents. Its only that humanity requires us to show sympathy for the victims and their families and I guess all I can say is pole kwao.

Simon said...

I don't blame people for trying to get some of the oil, even though it is terribly dangerous. Many people in that area have no electricity, little fuel, money, jobs or even food. But I am disgusted that roads in this country are in such terrible condition that accidents are much more common than they should be, vehicles are in shocking condition and things like this will continue to happen.

Politicians may maunder about this and that but they are the ones who have sat on their hands for years while infrastructure has virtually collapsed, safety regulations are almost always flouted and the people who stand to gain from this state of affairs are never the ones burned or injured in accidents.

Similar remarks apply to the Nakumatt fire, the people who own the company need to be scrutinised for their observance of safety regulations. They have lots of stores and I'm pretty sure safety in them is no better than it was in the one that burned down.

Lets remember who stands to gain from poor regulation, it's not the people who are so desperate that they will risk their lives for a bit of free oil.

Shiko-Msa said...

A word of comfort for the bereaved families.

Now these ministers kina Ongeri, Raila, Beth Mugo, Saitoti etc etc lining up to give speeches at the fire scene. they should be in some board rooms drawing disaster preparedness and public safety policies! No wait, there must be some policies somewhere only they're not enforced? Plus some of this safety is common sense no?

Rafiki said...

@ Des: And sadly terrible.

@ Kirima: Do we have something like emergency and survival skills in our curricula at primary, secondary and tertiary levels? Probably not, and our systems are too much exam-oriented.

@ kachwanya: Welcome to the site, I can't access yours: Parse error: syntax error, unexpected $end in /home/kennedy/public_html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 1029
How many of us are looters, how many of us are rescuers?

@ Mama: It is so nice that we have the word 'pole', it means a lot and I don't think there is such a word in other languages.

@ Simon: Feel welcome to the club. Do you think anyone is really gaining from this situation???

@ Shiko: Yes, the policies are there, as usual. But implementation...

Ngare said...

One crazy thing after the other!
As much as im sad that more than 100 of my country men perished im also angry at not only the policy makers and enforcers but also at the people who went to get the oil. On the balancing scale, my life would be worth much more than a can of precious petrol but then again if there are no jobs that may as well be my last day alive because of hunger. So i understand and im just left Angry.
I agree some safety course should be taught in school.

Digzer said...

And another thing. Last count I heard had 112 dead and 100+ in hospital. I picture a fuel tanker in my head. These people must have been literally squeezing past each other to get to the fuel! The toll is just unfathomamble and very very sad.

Let's hope we learn something ...

Rafiki said...

@ Ngare: It seems most of us agree that we would never do such a thing, yet we understand very well how these people reacted. So what do we do now? Eradicate poverty? Prepare for more disasters? Do we even know what first treatment to give to a victim with burns?

@ Digzer: According to some eye witnesses, there were about 300 people around the truck at the time of the disaster, so they must have been fighting for the best spaces indeed. So sad really!

jmaruru said...

What does it take to drive a nation to such desperate times that even two/three day after the tanker explosion in Molo killed 120+ people and scarred others for life, people would still run to try and steal oil (granted a different type) from a derailed train?