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At Least 111 Dead in Oil Fire in Kenya

At least 111 people have died in a fire in Kenya, after a truck carrying fuel overturned on the highway between the cities of Nakuru and Eldoret. Hundreds of people had gathered to collect the spilled gasoline when the truck burst into flames on late Saturday.

As many as 200 people were wounded in the blaze near the town of Molo, northwest of Nairobi, in Kenya's Rift Valley Province. The Kenya Red Cross says the victims include a number of women and children, as well as several police officers who responded to the crash. Officials say the death toll may rise.

The cause of the fire remains unclear. There have been several reports that a dropped cigarette ignited the blaze, though witness have also said that someone started the fire intentionally after being blocked from accessing the fuel.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga and several cabinet ministers visited the site of the fire on Sunday. Mr. Odinga expressed sympathy for the victims, but also warned of the dangers of collecting spilled fuel, noting that similar accidents have happened before in Kenya.

"We need to carry out a massive public education, awareness needs to be created among our people that it doesn't pay to get a few buckets of fuel and then put yourself in such a serious risk of losing your life," Mr. Odinga said. "But we don't want to play the blame game at the time of a disaster like this. There is going to be time for us to deal with those issues later. At the moment we must try to save the lives of those who survived."

Three days earlier, a fire at a supermarket in downtown Nairobi killed at least 25 people. Since then, Kenyan media have criticized the government for its slow response and poor disaster planning.

There have also been accusations that the government's response to Saturday's fire was too slow. According to Kenya's Nation newspaper, a fire engine arrived from the town of Nakuru an hour after the blaze began.