Fuel explosion kills 113 in Kenya

At least 113 people were killed and nearly 200 were injured Saturday after a tanker truck carrying gasoline burst into flames on a highway in central Kenya, officials said.
The gasoline tanker that caught fire lies on its side near the town of Molos. ((Sayyid Azim/Associated Press))
At least 113 people were killed and nearly 200 were injured Saturday after a tanker truck carrying gasoline burst into flames on a highway in central Kenya, officials said.

Hundreds of people had gathered around the tanker, which had flipped onto its side, spilling its cargo, near the town the Molo, about 130 kilometres north of the capital Nairobi.

Officials said many of the victims were trying to scoop up some of the fuel when the vehicle blew up.

Overwhelmed hospitals were packed with the injured, including small children, suffering from horrific burns. Many were lying on the floors, hooked up to drips and moaning in pain as doctors tried to save their lives.

Supplies, including body bags and extra medicine, were sent by helicopter to the region. More than 30 of the most seriously injured were airlifted to Nairobi.

On Sunday, burnt-out cars and charred clothing littered the road where the shell of the tanker stood. Authorities were combing through the scorched forest by the road for any corpses.

Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga said at a news conference that it appeared someone's cigarette caused the explosion but police were still investigating.

Rift Valley police provincial commissioner Hassan Noor Hassan suggested the blaze may have been lit by people the police were trying to keep away from the fuel.

"Most of the families will have a hard time because these bodies are charred beyond recognition," said Patrick Nyongesa, regional manager for the Kenya Red Cross.

The Kenyan government has been criticized for poor safety regulations recently. On Wednesday, a massive fire swept through a supermarket in downtown Nairobi, killing at least 25.

With files from the Associated Press