At least 13 people were burned to death after a petrol tanker exploded in Malanga area of Yala in Siaya County, authorities have confirmed.
Siaya county commissioner Mohammed Barre has also confirmed that dozens of those who had rushed to siphon fuel from the tanker sustained serious burns when it burst into flames.
The accident occurred near Argwings Kodhek secondary school, a few kilometres from Sidindi trading centre where scores of people died in a similar accident two decades ago.
According to eye witnesses, the tanker which was transporting petrol from Kisumu to Uganda hit a milk transporting lorry that was heading in the opposite direction before veering off the road and rolled before landing near the school fence.
“I heard a blast at night, when I rushed here to find out what had transpired, I met people dashing with cries for help. Most of them were on fire. I saw men, women and children running for their lives. Many were burnt beyond recognition,” one of eyewitnesses recounted
Villagers who rushed to the scene started siphoning fuel that was flowing from the tanker and as a scramble ensued, the tanker exploded.
The fierce fire engulfed those who were within the vicinity, as everyone ran for safety.
“The fire was huge and no one could go near to assist the victims.” another eyewitness who arrived at the scene almost immediately said.
The County commissioner said fire fighters were summoned and helped put out the fire as the milk-transporting lorry, which was slightly damaged, was towed to the Malanga police post.
Barre called on the public to desist from rushing to accident scenes, especially to siphon fuel from tankers.
“We should never try to siphon fuel from any vehicle. This is automatic death warrant” said the county commissioner who lamented that members of the public seem not to learn from past incidents that have led to loss of hundreds of lives in different parts of the country.