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Toll from Tanzania fuel truck blast rises to 85: governor

The death toll from a fuel truck explosion in Tanzania has climbed to 85, a local governor said Wednesday, after 10 more people died from injuries sustained in the horrific blast.

A massive fireball engulfed a crowd thronging to collect petrol from an overturned tanker Saturday near the town of Morogoro, some 200 kilometres (125 miles) west of Dar es Salaam, the financial capital.

The initial explosion killed dozens, with others rushed to hospital with burns and serious injuries in one of the deadliest oil tanker blasts in Africa in recent years.

A spokesman for the National Hospital in Dar es Salaam, Aminiel Aligaesha, said Wednesday that seven more people had died, taking the overall death toll to 82. Another 32 were being treated, including 17 in intensive care, he added.

“We are continuing to fight as best we can to save those still alive,” the hospital spokesman, Aminiel Aligaesha, told reporters Wednesday.

But later Wednesday, Morogoro governor Stephen Kebwe told reporters the death toll had risen once again.

“Three more deaths occurred during the day,” he said, confirming the new toll of 85.

The flames swept through a large crowd trying to siphon leaking petrol from a truck that overturned as it swerved to avoid a motorcycle.

Officials said the explosion was triggered when a man tried to retrieve the truck’s battery, creating sparks that ignited the fuel.

An official inquiry was ordered Sunday into the accident, with a preliminary report expected later this week.

It was the latest in a string of such disasters in Africa and at least the third this year.

Last month, 45 people were killed and more than 100 injured in central Nigeria when a petrol tanker crashed and then exploded as people tried to take the fuel. In May, a similar incident in Niger killed nearly 80 people.

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