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Tanzania fuel tanker blast kills 64

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The deadly blast took place near the town of Morogoro, west of the economic capital Dar es Salaam

Sixty-four people perished in Tanzania Saturday when a fuel tanker overturned and then exploded as crowds of people rushed to syphon off leaking fuel.

The deadly blast, which took place near the town of Morogoro, west of the economic capital Dar es Salaam, is the latest in a series of similar disasters in Africa.

“At the moment, there are 64 dead after two of the 72 people who were injured died from their wounds,” the governor of Morogoro, Stephen Kebwe, told reporters at the scene in Msamvu, about 200 kilometres (125 miles) west of Dar es Salaam.

Footage from the scene showed the truck engulfed in fierce flames and huge clouds of black smoke, with charred bodies and the burnt-out remains of motorcycle taxis scattered on the ground among scorched trees.

Regional police chief Wilbrod Mtafungwa described a “huge explosion” and said the dead were mainly drivers of the taxis known as “boda-boda” and locals who flocked to the scene for the fuel.

A video posted on social media showed dozens of people carrying yellow jerricans around the truck.

The tragedy has also triggered an outpouring of grief across the country, with President John Magufuli and ordinary citizens sending messages of condolences.

Magufuli also called for people to stop the dangerous practice of stealing fuel in such a way, something that is common in many poor parts of Africa.

Last month, at least 45 people were killed and more than 100 injured in central Nigeria when a petrol tanker crashed and then exploded as people tried to gather fuel.

In May, a similar incident occurred in Niger just a short distance from the airport in the capital Niamey, leaving almost 80 people dead.

Among the deadliest such disasters, 292 people lost their lives in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in July 2010, and in September 2015 at least 203 people perished in the town of Maridi in South Sudan.

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