The death toll from the recent gas tanker explosion in Totota, Lower Bong County, has risen to over 40, according to Liberia’s Chief Medical Officer and Deputy Minister for Health Services, Dr. Francis Kateh.
The incident occurred when the gas tanker reportedly fell off the road and caught fire late Tuesday evening. Tragically, citizens had rushed to the scene to collect gas that was pouring out from the fallen tanker when it suddenly exploded, resulting in numerous fatalities and severe injuries.
During an interview at Phebe Hospital on December 27, 2023, Dr. Kateh stated that 83 patients were admitted to the hospital, with three confirmed deaths at that time.
The blast of the tanker, labeled “God’s Willing”, left many dead and several severely injured in Totota, Lower Bong County during the late evening hours of Tuesday, December 26. The tanker truck, reportedly conveying gasoline to Ganta, Nimba County, overturned near the Upper Room Church in Totota and caught fire.
Eyewitnesses state that some people from the community were attempting to collect the spilled gasoline when the explosion took place, resulting in severe injuries and fatalities.
“When the tanker fell, many people came from all over the town. Some were only looking as the gas was spilling, but others brought containers and were collecting the gas,” an eyewitness told the Daily Observer. “So in no time, the tanker caught fire as many people began running helter-skelter. Many people could not escape the blast.”
In his media briefing with the press on Wednesday, December 27, Chief Medical Officer Kateh cautioned that the death toll could potentially increase as house-to-house contact tracing continues. Among the deceased are one woman and three children ranging from ages 6 to 9. Patients with more severe injuries are being transferred to various hospitals in Monrovia, including the JFK Medical Center, 14-Military Hospital, St. Joseph’s Catholic Hospital, and ELWA Hospital.
The situation remains tragic, and efforts are ongoing to provide medical support and assistance to those affected by this devastating incident.