By Andrew Irumba
Rubirizi: Scores of people are feared dead after a fuel tanker exploded in the western Ugandan District of Rubirizi on Sunday 18 August 2019, a police spokesperson said.
The accident, which occurred at around 3.30pm, involved a fuel tanker, which was from Kasese side, that lost control after failing to negotiate a corner and Knocked stationary vehicles, which sparked the fire.
The fire immediately spread to nearby shops. Multiple witnesses said that most of the dead were caught unawares as they were in their shops, with others taking naps. Others were also burnt as they attempted to rescue their property from the burning shops.
Ms Harriet Nabukenya the Resident District Commissioner (RDC) said close to 40 retail and wholesale shops were burnt.
Marshal Tumusiime, the Great Bushenyi regional police spokesperson confirmed news that the explosion occurred after the petrol tanker overturned and exploded at Kyambura trading center.
Marshal said, the fire that gutted a fuel tanker in Rubirizi District started from a charcoal stove lit by roadside vendors.
The place where the accident occurred is a major stop for travelers in need
of roasted cassava, meat and plantain. Many of the dealers, use charcoal stoves
to prepare quick meals by the roadside.
“The fuel tanker was traveling from Mbarara to Kasese. The spot where the incident happened is a busy trading center with lots of people roasting cassava and other roadside snacks. The driver lost control and overturned into the hot charcoal stoves,” Tumusiime said.
However, he also told the press that Police couldn’t get to the scene in time due to long distance but managed to rush the injured to Lugazi Health Centre 1V for treatment.
Sincere Kansiime, a resident, told journalists that she counted 15 bodies that were being removed from the burnt houses. She said residents abandoned the rescue efforts and instead concentrated on saving property from their houses due to fear that the fire would spread there.
This is the most recent deadly fire accident in Uganda in the last 6 years. In 2013, 33 people – mainly bodaboda riders – were killed in the fuel tanker fire, which also destroyed about 20 motorcycles at Namungoona on the Northern Bypass.
By the time of filing this story, Uganda People’s Defense Forces-UPDF officers had joined the rescue efforts.