MNH numb as tanker fire death toll hits 100

22Aug 2019
The Guardian Reporter
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
MNH numb as tanker fire death toll hits 100

AS the death toll from the fuel tanker explosion in Morogoro a fortnight ago reached 100 yesterday, the Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH) made an effort to explain the low survival rate of those admitted in its Intensive Care Unit.

Muhimbili National Hospital plastic surgery specialist Dr Edwin Mrema briefs journalists in Dar es Salaam yesterday on the death toll of Morogoro fuel tanker tragedy. He is flanked by the hospital’s information and communication head Aminiel Aligaesha. Photo: Correspondent Getrude Mpezya

Dr Edwin Mrema, a plastic surgeon at the facility told reporters that the victims suffered severe burns of between 70 to 100 per cent, which makes efforts to saves lives a matter of chance.

Furthermore, the victims inhaled toxic fumes from the blast and had their internal organs badly damaged, Dr Mrema said, noting that even area residents who tried to help covered the victims, which exacerbated their injuries.

The surgeon stated that given the lack of proper first aid after the explosion, those who were rushed to the facility 200 kilometres away arrived in a critical condition.

“Their respiratory systems, lungs and kidneys were badly affected. Most of them are in critical condition but we are doing our best," said the surgeon.

Burn experts say that as the percentage of burn surface area increases, the risk of death increases as well. Patients with burns involving less than 20 per cent of their body are likely to do well, but those with burns involving greater than 50 per cent have a substantially higher mortality risk, depending upon a variety of factors, including underlying medical conditions and age.

This specification comes after MNH spokesman Aminiel Aligaesha  told reporters that two more patients had died on Tuesday during the day, and another at night, bringing the total number of those who had succumbed to their injuries to 100. These were among 47 survivors receiving treatment at the facility, while the hospital is stil caring for 15 victims, 13 admitted at ICU and two others at the Sewahaji ward.

Officials had put the tally at 95 on Sunday, but the number increased after Morogoro Regional Commissioner Stephen Kabwe announced two deaths early Tuesday.

Victims were drawn mainly from those who were trying to collect leaking petrol from an overturned fuel tanker but it later exploded.

Witnesses said the tanker tipped over as it tried to avoid a motorcycle, and locals quickly converged on the scene to collect fuel.

The explosion was triggered when a man tried to retrieve the truck's battery, creating sparks that ignited the fuel,  police officials asserted.

Many of the victims were motorbike taxi drivers who rushed to the scene to try to siphon off leaking petrol. A video posted on social media taken before the explosion showed dozens of people carrying yellow jerry cans around the tanker.

The blast, which took place Saturday  August 10 is the latest in a series of similar 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.

In the worst tragedy, 292 people lost their lives in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in July 2010, while in September 2015 at least 203 people died the South Sudan town of Maridi.

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