“It was after midnight and I heard a loud noise so I asked one of my boys to go and look. He told me a gasoline truck exploded,” said Abraham Joanis, 61, as he carried around a guitar rescued unscathed from the charred remains of his home, one of 50 gutted by the blaze.
A gasoline tanker overturned and exploded in northern Haiti, unleashing a fireball that swept through homes and businesses on its way to killing at least 60 people in the latest tragedy to befall the Caribbean nation, AP reports.
The blast occurred shortly after midnight in Cap-Haitien, Haiti’s second largest city, along the northern coast. Hours later, at dawn Tuesday, buildings and overturned vehicles were still fuming as firefighters covered the burned bodies of the young victims in white sheets and loaded them onto the back of a construction truck.
Hundreds of Haitians — who aren’t easily shocked amid so much of their country’s misfortune — looked on from rooftops in disbelief at the loss of so much life. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Ariel Henry, himself a physician, visited a hospital where victims bandaged head to toe were fighting for their lives amid a shortage of medical supplies and health workers.
“It’s horrible what happened,” said Patrick Almonor, deputy mayor of Cap-Haitien, adding that he expects the death toll to rise as first responders comb through buildings gutted by the fire. “We lost so many lives.”
Early reports indicate that the tanker was trying to avoid an oncoming motorcycle when it flipped. Onlookers then rushed to the scene with buckets to scoop up what they could of the tanker’s valuable cargo, likely for resale on the black market, as the fuel spilled toward a nearby pile of smoldering trash.
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