JUBA (Reuters) - The death toll in South Sudan from the explosion of a fuel truck this week has risen to 182, a regional official said on Friday.
The blast occurred on Wednesday as crowds gathered around the tanker to gather fuel after it had veered off the road. An official had earlier said the toll could keep rising as South Sudan did not have adequate facilities to treat the burns.
“The death toll has increased to 182 people. However, we are now on the ground evacuating some serious cases to a safe location for medical attention,” Wilson Thomas Yanga, Maridi County Commissioner, told Reuters.
Maridi is in Western Equatoria, the region where the blast took place.
Such incidents have happened before in the east African region where fuel tankers often have to travel long distances along potholed roads and pass through poor communities.
There are almost no tarmac roads in South Sudan, one of Africa’s poorest nations, which has been mired in conflict since December 2013. Rebels and the government signed a peace deal in August, although the ceasefire has already been violated.
Presidential spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny had said Wednesday’s incident was not related to the conflict. “This was an accident,” he said.
In June 2013, at least 30 people were killed and scores more injured when a broken-down fuel tanker exploded on a highway in Uganda while they were trying to siphon fuel.
Writing by Edmund Blair; editing by Dominic Evans