In the town of Cap Haitien, Haiti, a fuel tanker exploded after overturning. As a result of the fierce flames, at least 75 people died, many remain hospitalized, and more than 30 homes were set on fire.

The explosion occurred on Monday night, Dec. 13, after a truck loaded with fuel overturned, spilling its load.

At that moment, dozens of people approached the place, attempting to carry away part of the flammable liquid. Suddenly, an intense explosion occurred, leaving everything charred near the truck, including the people nearby.

“I observed at the site between 50 and 54 people burned alive. It is impossible to identify them,” stated the city’s deputy mayor, Patrick Almonord. DW News reported.

In addition to the 75 people who have so far died, dozens were seriously injured and are hospitalized in local hospitals. According to close sources, the hospitals are full to capacity, and dozens of injured people are waiting in courtyards and corridors to be treated.

Health personnel warned that the shortage of oxygen, serum, and other essential materials makes it very difficult to properly attend to those affected by the explosion.

Since the last few months, Haiti has been experiencing severe fuel supply problems, which has led to the exponential development of illegal trade and has transformed fuel into a highly prized commodity.

Last week, the Haitian government announced a sharp increase in the price of petroleum derivatives, with increases ranging from 24 percent in the case of gasoline to 108 percent in the case of diesel.

Meanwhile, given the profound shortage of fuels, prices on the black market increased even more, depending on the area and the moment.

As the black market increased, safety standards regarding fuel transfer also decreased. This may have been one of the causes of the accident, although the authorities have not provided any further information so far.

Last weekend, Port-au-Prince saw the first protests against fuel price increases, bringing back memories of the demonstrations held in 2018 over the same issue, which ended in large and violent riots that came close to toppling the government of then-President Jovenel Moise.

Prime Minister Ariel Henry, expressing deep sorrow for the victims and decreed three days of national mourning.

“Three days of national mourning will be decreed throughout the territory, in memory of the victims of this tragedy that the entire Haitian nation is suffering,” tweeted Henry.

Haiti was one of the hardest hit countries on the continent during this last period. After a year of pandemic, where its already impoverished economy ended up sinking, its president Jovenel Moïse was assassinated by a commando group, leaving a deep political and institutional crisis. 

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