A train hauling oil exploded into flames Saturday after derailing and colliding with an oncoming train on the outskirts of Cameroon's capital. Up to 100 people were killed in the blast.
Many of the victims were cab drivers and other bystanders who had rushed in with pails to scoop up oil gushing from the ruptured tanker cars and were engulfed in flames when they exploded, said Yaounde's coroner, Defoe Mambo.The trains collided in mid-afternoon near Yaounde's central oil depot in Nsam, on the city's fringe, authorities said. The ensuing blast sent billows of black smoke into the air that were visible throughout much of the capital. By late Saturday, the fire still had not been extinguished.
One witness told The Associated Press that a lit cigarette sparked the blast. The report could not be confirmed.
Witnesses and doctors at several Yaounde hospitals said at least 100 people were killed in the explosion, although the television report put the number in the dozens.
"We have been able to identify between 50 and 80 dead," Mambo said. "But we do not know where all the corpses have been taken.'
The bodies of at least 16 victims had been transferred to Yaounde's Military Hospital, doctors said. Another 46 bodies were brought to the city's Central Hospital.
The accident is one of the worst disasters to hit Cameroon since it began developing its oil industry in the 1970s.