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The explosion happened in a populated area of the city of Cap Haitien after the truck overturned and neighbors tried to loot it.
The explosion of a fuel tanker early Tuesday morning in a populated area of Cap Haitien, northern Haiti, caused at least 60 deaths, about a hundred injuries and about thirty burned homes.
According to statements to local media by a municipal official, Patrick Almonor, the detonation took place after the truck overturned in the Samaria area, at the city's eastern entrance, and dozens of people approached to extract fuel from it.
"Local residents flocked to the truck when the explosion occurred," Almonor said.
According to statements made by firefighters while trying to extinguish the fire, there were about 40 charred bodies, including women and children, in the vicinity of the fire at that time.
Firefighters fear that the number could increase, as sleeping people may have been trapped inside the houses razed to the ground by the flames. The work to extinguish the fire lasted about three hours.
The injured, many with life-threatening injuries, were immediately taken to nearby hospitals. An image published by a local newspaper shows dozens of them being treated in the courtyard of the main hospital of Cap Haitien, called Justinien.
The hospital director, Dr. Calhil Turenne, explained that they had to treat them in the open due to lack of space and that his staff is overwhelmed by the number of injured they received and the exhaustion of serums, gauze and other means.
J’ai appris, avec désolation et émoi, la triste nouvelle de l’explosion, hier soir, au Cap-Haïtien, d’un camion citerne qui transportait de l'essence et qui a causé, selon un bilan partiel, une quarantaine de morts, des dizaines de blessés, ainsi que d’importants dégâts matériels
"I learned, with desolation and emotion, the sad news of the explosion, yesterday evening, in Cap-Haitian, of a tanker truck transporting gasoline and which caused, according to a partial assessment, about forty deaths, dozens of injuries, as well as significant material damage."
The situation is equally tense at the Hospital of the Baptist Convention of Haiti, where an unspecified number of wounded are being treated, according to its director, Dr. Euclide Toussaint.
The president of the municipal commission, Yvrose Pierre, told the media that urgent help was needed to treat the survivors. At the same time, the departmental delegate, Pierrot Augustin, said that the city was not prepared for a tragedy of this magnitude.
According to the media, several local officials are present at the fire site to quantify the damage, while corpses continue to be found.
The country's authorities expressed their condolences in the last hours, and the Prime Minister, Ariel Henry, declared three days of national mourning.
For several months Haiti has been facing an acute fuel shortage which has impacted the cost of living. Organized crime has exploited this situation to hijack tanker trucks and sell their contents at exorbitant prices.