By: Patrick Stephen Tokpah
MONROVIA: As the nation continues to mourn the death of some citizens in Totota, Bong County in the wake of a fire explosion after a tanker conveying gasoline had an accident, the Deputy Minister of Health Services and Chief Medical Officer of Liberia, Dr. Francis Kateh has disclosed that more than 40 persons were reported dead and about 83 persons were said to have sustained various injuries and are being treated in various hospitals.
Speaking in an interview with journalists at the Phebe Hospital in Bong County, Dr. Kateh said the 83 patients were reported at the Phebe Referral Hospital immediately after the incident and 3 persons were reported dead due to the severity of injuries to the victims.
He said the death toll might increase following the completion of the ongoing house-to-house contact tracing, stating of the 3 who died at Phebe Hospital, one was a woman and the other two between the ages of 6-9 years.
According to Dr. Kateh, some of the victims who sustained major injuries are being transferred to different Hospitals in Monrovia including, JFK, 14-Military Hospital, Catholic Hospital, and ELWA Hospital among others.
It can be recalled that late Tuesday evening this week a gas tanker carrying huge consignment from Monrovia to Nimba experienced an accident and veered off the road, tumbling over in the process.
Various eyewitness accounts have it that some of the citizens, mostly youth and motorcyclists saw it as an opportunity to scoop gasoline spilling around and also to loot the tanker out of its content. While in the process of looting, the pressure said to have been exerted on the fallen tanker caused an explosion and most of those who were in close proximity of the tanker caught fire, while others who were able to escape were victimized with various degrees of burns all over their bodies.
As there was no immediate rescue, citizens looked on in sorrow, tears and agony as the fire burned some of the victims beyond recognition.
A report from Bong county yesterday said a mass burial was held for most of the victims in the Totoya area amidst weeping and sorrow among relatives, friends and well- wishers.
Meanwhile the United Bong County Association in the Americas, UBCAA says the organization is saddened by the irreparable loss of lives that occurred recently in Totota, Bong County after a fuel tanker exploded killing more than 30 people.
In a dispatch from Minneapolis, Minnesota, the National Executive President, Caimon Joe Gbamokollie expressed condolences to the bereaved families for their irreparable losses and prayed for the speedy recovery of the injured. He prayed that God would give the families solace during this period of bereavement.
Mr. Gbamokollie expressed appreciation on behalf of the United Bong County Association in the Americas to the first responders, medical teams from Phebe, the JFK Medical Center, ELWA, and other health facilities for the enormous work they are doing to save lives.
The Association thanked citizens, well-meaning Liberians, and the Bong County Legislative Caucus led by Representative Maima Briggs for the disaster relief efforts they have undertaken.
The dispatch said the United Bong County Association in the Americas says it stands ready to contribute to current relief efforts and has constituted a National Emergency Disaster Relief Committee to work with local authorities. The Committee is chaired by Blyden Kennedy and includes the National Operations Chairman, Leo Mulbah.
At its emergency meeting on Wednesday, the organization raised an initial amount of five thousand United States dollars towards the relief effort. The goal of the committee is to raise USD100k and in the coming days, the emergency disaster relief committee will work with local professionals, stakeholders, and authorities to ensure that all relief assistance reaches the affected people and communities.