The explosion of a tanker truck carrying fuel killed at least 50 people and injured more than 100. In addition, around 20 houses were destroyed by the shock wave and fire. The incident comes at a time when the Caribbean nation is going through a deep crisis of fuel shortages caused by criminal gangs.
At midnight on Tuesday, December 14, at least 50 people lost their lives and more than 100 were injured as a result of the explosion of a fuel tanker.
The blast also burned around 20 houses near the central Pont Grand Bois et Samarie neighborhood in Cap-Haitien, the city in northern Haiti where the tragedy occurred.
The news was announced by Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who in his Twitter account confirmed the magnitude of the explosion in terms of human losses and material damage.
Henry said that “on behalf of my Government and that of the entire Haitian population, including the diaspora, I offer my deepest condolences to the parents of the victims, as well as to all those who are directly or indirectly affected by this tragedy.”
Former Haitian Prime Minister Claude Joseph also spoke through his Twitter account: “I share the pain and sadness of all the people,” said the leader.
For his part, Patrick Almonord, the vice mayor of Cap-Haitien, explained to the radio station ‘Radio Télévision Caraïbes’ that he believes that the explosion occurred after the gasoline truck overturned in an attempt to avoid colliding with a motorcycle.
Almonord added that “we continue with the count of victims,” referring to the fact that the figure of 50 deaths is preliminary, since “we are not yet able to give details about the number of victims inside the houses.”
Dave Larose, a civil engineer working in Cap-Haitien, reported that “while dozens of bodies lay near the scene of the explosion, people in the area used buckets to collect gasoline from the truck and onto the street to take it home.” .
Images disseminated on social networks showed several injured being treated on the floor of the Justinien hospital due to the lack of beds. A person identified as Dr. Calhil Turenne said “we are overwhelmed.” This, in relation to the lack of nurses, doctors and basic supplies to assist the victims.
A hospital nurse assured the AFP agency that “we do not have the means to care for the many seriously burned people” and added that “I fear that we will not be able to save everyone.”
Consequently, the prime minister assured that temporary hospitals are being created to care for the victims.
Finally, Ariel Henry declared three days of national mourning. “Three days of national mourning will be decreed throughout the territory, in memory of the victims of this tragedy suffered by the entire Haitian nation.”
The deep fuel crisis in Haiti
The Caribbean country has suffered a fuel shortage caused by criminal gangs for more than a month. These gangs block the oil terminals to pressure the resignation of Ariel Henry. Indeed, the informal trade in petroleum derivatives has increased at the same time that prices have risen exponentially.
Last week, the Haitian government reported that gasoline rates had risen 24% and diesel rates 108%. However, fuel prices on the black market are much higher. For these reasons, several Haitians organized protests in Port-au-Prince, the capital.
In July 2018 a similar situation was experienced. Citizens staged violent demonstrations that shook the power bases of then-President Jovenel Moïse, and led to the resignation of Prime Minister Jack Guy Lafontant.
Haiti is still trying to recover from the July 7 presidential assassination, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck the country in mid-August, and an increase in gang-related kidnappings.
With AFP, EFE and Reuters