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Death Toll for South Sudan Tanker Accident Rises to 150

Map of Western Equatoria state in South Sudan, showing the town of Maridi.
Map of Western Equatoria state in South Sudan, showing the town of Maridi.

Officials in South Sudan now say at least 150 people were killed when an overturned oil tanker exploded, killing people who were trying to siphon out the fuel.

Officials originally reported the death toll in Wednesday's explosion at 85, but by Friday their tally had risen drastically.

The blast took place on a road near the town of Maridi, some 250 kilometers west of the capital, Juba.

The local government director of Maridi, John Saki, told the French news agency that the death toll could be as high as 176 people. He said about a thousand people had crowded around the tanker to collect fuel after it crashed Wednesday.

Mariam Tito, chief of the Mambe Mayan district, told VOA's South Sudan in Focus program Thursday that the death toll was likely to rise due to the severity of many victims' burns.

Such explosions are somewhat common in the poverty-wracked East African nation, where people often converge on broken-down tankers to steal fuel. In June 2013, 30 people were killed in a fuel truck explosion in Uganda.

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