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Death Toll Tops 200 in South Sudan Fuel Tanker Explosion

Map of Western Equatoria state in South Sudan, showing the town of Maridi, where a fuel tanker rolled over and exploded on Sept. 16, 2015.

The death toll from a fuel tanker explosion near the South Sudan town of Maridi two weeks ago has risen to 206, officials said Wednesday.

Justin Joseph Marona, the member of parliament for Maridi County, told a legislative session that many of the victims died instantly when the overturned tanker truck exploded in a ball of fire. Scores more died of severe burns.

Many of the victims were collecting fuel from the truck when it exploded.

The chairman of the Maridi Community Asation in Juba, Joseph Abrohoma, confirmed the new death toll to South Sudan in Focus.

Nearly 300 hospitalized

Marona said 280 people are still hospitalized following the accident, which is said to be the deadliest of its kind in South Sudan.

Seventy victims of the accident were airlifted to Juba hospital to undergo treatment, according to Abrohoma and Abraham Adut, a doctor who works at the hospital.

Dr. Adut said three of the victims died within days of arriving at the hospital but the others are responding to treatment and recovering.

Dozens of other victims of the accident are receiving treatment for their injuries at hospitals in Western Equatoria state.

Probe committee launched

Lawmakers have set up a committee to investigate the causes of the accident.

Gatwech Lam, who represents Upper Nile State’s Nassir County in the National Assembly and heads the energy committee in parliament, said that in addition to tanker truck safety, lawmakers have safety concerns about gas stations that are located in residential areas.

Around 150 people died in a fire at a gas station in Accra, the capital of Ghana, in June.

“Imagine what will happen if it happened here in Juba. It would be a disaster," Lam said.