NIAMEY The death toll from a tanker truck explosion near the international airport in Niger's capital, Niamey, has risen to 60, authorities said Tuesday.
The tally is likely to rise further as the prognosis is poor for several people who sustained severe burns, security official Hamani Adamou Abdoul-Aziz told state television.
The overturned tanker exploded Sunday night as crowds gathered to collect spilt fuel.
Interior Minister Mohamed Bazoum, who inspected the site Monday, said people on foot and motorcycle had rushed to the scene to take fuel. According to witnesses, one biker failed to switch off his engine, causing a spark that ignited the 50,000 liters of fuel.
The driver of the tanker truck has told investigators that an electrical failure caused him to lose control of the vehicle and its brakes.
The truck overturned as he tried to bring it to a stop, senior police official Boubacar Rabiou Daddy told a TV station.
Before the blast, people ignored police trying to keep them away, and threw stones at firefighters, he added.
The massive explosion on the RN1 route near the international airport left the burnt truck's wreckage, motorbikes and debris scattered over the road.
Nearby houses were damaged by fire.
About 40 people were reported injured, most of them in a very serious condition in hospital with severe burns.
Source: Voice of America