Death toll in Niger tanker truck explosion rises

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The death toll from a May 6 tanker truck explosion near the international airport in Niger’s capital has risen to 76, state television reported late Sunday.

An earlier official report Tuesday gave 60 dead, including 55 who died at the time of the explosion a few hundred metres (yards) from the airport in Niamey.

Most of the victims were trying to collect spilt fuel flowing from the overturned truck when the blast occurred. About 40 people were injured.

Security official, Hamani Adamou Abdoul-Aziz, had earlier warned that the toll was likely to rise as several people had sustained severe, life-threatening burns.

The driver of the truck has told investigators that an electrical failure caused him to lose control of the vehicle and its brakes.

The truck overturned by the railway track as he was trying to stop it and people then rushed to collect petrol spilling from the vehicle.

According to witnesses, a motorcyclist who had filled his cans tried to restart his bike, which caused a spark that ignited the 50,000 litres (13,000 US gallons) of fuel.

The massive explosion on route RN1 near the airport left the burnt truck’s wreckage, motorbikes and debris scattered over the road.

Nearby houses were damaged by the fire.

Niger held three days of national mourning from Wednesday to Friday in memory of the victims.