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Africa

Tanker explosion kills motorists on major Kenyan highway

More than 30 people are dead in Kenya following a highway explosion. Reports say a truck ferrying chemical gas lost control and rammed into other vehicles, before exploding into flames.

A truck carrying chemicals exploded on a Kenyan highway, killing more than 30 people late Saturday, local authorities said. 

The tanker lost control on a downhill stretch of the road from Nairobi to Naivasha and smashed into other vehicles, Mwachi Pius Mwachi, the deputy director of the National Disaster Management Unit said.

It burst into flames starting a blaze involving more that 11 vehicles, he said.

A Red Cross official said the group found multiple bodies at the crash.

The wreckage of a police truck involved in an accident (Reuters/T. Mukoya)

The crash involved more than 11 vehicles

"We have so far collected 25 bodies from the scene of the accident after a lorry heading to Uganda lost control and rammed into several vehicles," Felister Kioko said at the scene.

"It's a terrible incident, people are burnt, some in their cars and others as they tried to escape," said a police officer on the scene.

George Rono was driving when he saw the tanker crash into other vehicles.

"We survived by luck because we saw it happen," Rono said. "We heard vehicles hooting simultaneously then a loud burst that was followed by fire, that's when I swerved my car and jumped out, when fire started spreading, but luckily it didn't get to where we were."

"It is like a horror movie," said Jane Muthoni, a shopkeeper who works close to the scene of the accident and rushed there soon after it happened to try to help people escape their cars.

"It will haunt me for a long time, imagining that huge fire where people were burning, and now I have seen some seated in their vehicles dead," she said.

People posted images of the scene on social media.

Doctors and nurses were still on a five-day strike in Kenya on Sunday, crippling many key hospitals.

Local newspaper Daily Nation reported a death toll of 40, including the 14 passengers of a minibus.

More than 1,500 people died in road accidents in the first half of 2016, according to the National Transport and Safety Authority.

In 2009 more than 100 people died in Kenya after a petrol tanker caught fire. 

aw/jr (AFP, AP, Reuters)

 

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