The death toll from a fire following a late Saturday collision between a fuel tanker and a car on the outskirts of Uganda’s capital, Kampala, has risen to 31.
Minister of Information Rose Namayanja said the government will officially announce Monday the names of the victims as well as reinforce the message that the public should stay away from accidents involving trucks with inflammable products such as fuel.
Namayanja said most of the casualties occurred when people rushed to the scene of the accident to scoop the spilling fuel.
“A station wagon Toyota, a small car, ran into a fuel tanker which was carrying around 30,000 liters and the impact caused the fuel spillage on the road and into the nearby swamp. Now, this spillage attracted particularly motorcyclists, then passersby, and some residents, who came to start scooping this fuel that has spilled. So, in the process, I think because of the spillage, the heat on the road, and the massive evaporation of fuel, a huge fire broke out, and, when the huge fire broke out, most of these people tried to run out, but they couldn’t make it,” she said.
Fuel tanker explosions are said to be common in Uganda. Namayanja said the government has repeatedly told the public to first call the police whenever there is an accident involving gas tankers.
“We have persistently said, and we continue to give the people the message, that in case there is an accident, the first thing before you even approach, inform the authorities that are concerned. For instance, in such a situation, it was important for them to inform police even before scooping the fuel. But, I think they realize that, if they informed the police, they will not be allowed to scoop the fuel, and we encourage them [not to] because, [if] you could scoop [up] fuel worth $10, that can cost your life,” Namayanja said.
She said the Northern Bypass Highway, where the accident occurred, was constructed specifically so that tankers would avoid populated areas.