More than 60 people have died after a fuel truck overturned and exploded in Haiti’s second-largest city Cap-Haitien, the country’s health ministry has announced.
The death toll is expected to rise after the truck carrying gasoline overturned at about midnight in the area of Sanmarie on the eastern end of the city, according to local media.
The local hospital was stretched trying to treat the injured, said the mayor, Pierre Yvrose, on Tuesday. The total number of injured was still not known.
“We need human resources, and also material resources, namely, serum, gauze and anything that can be used in case of serious burns,” Yvrose said.
A UN vehicle drives past a barricade of burning tires during a demonstration against high prices and fuel shortages in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Thursday.
Aid to Haiti sent by sea to bypass rising gang violence
The Caribbean nation has suffered from a wave of violence this year by gangs, who for nearly a month prevented fuel trucks from loading at its main fuel ports, forcing many businesses to shut down. Fuel deliveries resumed last month.
As rescue workers cleaned up in the aftermath of the explosion, bodies covered in white sheets lay on the ground before they were loaded on to trucks to be taken away.
The blast also damaged the fronts of houses and shops in the street and charred motorbikes and cars, Reuters journalists said.
“I learned, with desolation and emotion, the sad news of the explosion, last night, in Cap-Haitien, of a tanker truck which transported gasoline,” the prime minister, Ariel Henry, wrote on Twitter.
The government declared three days of mourning for the dead.
The UN office in Haiti said it stood ready to help the national authorities in its response, and offered its condolences to the families of the victims.
Gangs have grown more powerful since the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, which created a political vacuum and allowed criminal groups to expand their territory.