13 KILLED IN EXPLOSION

'Let’s learn and live': Raila's warning to Kenyans after Siaya tanker tragedy

"I hope this is the last time our people are dying out of a scramble for fuel."

In Summary

• Deadly fuel truck accidents along perilous roads are not uncommon in Kenya.

• Despite warnings from authorities of the dangers of siphoning after the deaths of hundreds in previous incidents, many people continue to do it because they are pressed by poverty.

The wreckage of the fuel tanker that burst into flames after an accident in Malanga, Gem along the Kisumu-Busia road on Saturday, July 17, 2021
The wreckage of the fuel tanker that burst into flames after an accident in Malanga, Gem along the Kisumu-Busia road on Saturday, July 17, 2021
Image: DICKENS WESONGA

This should be the last time Kenyans are dying out of a scramble for fuel from an overturned tanker, ODM party leader Raila Odinga has said.

Raila was reacting after 13 people were killed when a fuel tanker exploded in Malanga village in Gem, Siaya County on Saturday.

"As we mourn and reflect, I hope against hope that this may be the last time our people are dying out of a scramble for fuel from an overturned tanker; that our people may learn to run away, not towards such scenes in future," he said.

"The scene of this latest accident is barely 10kms from Sidindi where a similar accident claimed tens of lives in 1998."

He sent his condolences to the families that have lost loved ones in the accident.

"Quick recovery to those nursing injuries. May God grant you strength to cope," he said.

Malanga village was thrown into mourning following the Saturday night fuel tanker fire.

Another 29 people were injured and were admitted to various hospitals with varying degrees of burns.

The tanker had been involved in a collision with a trailer along the Kisumu-Busia road prompting villagers to rush to the scene to siphon fuel.

Villagers who rushed to the scene started siphoning fuel. And as they scrambled for the precious commodity, the tanker exploded.

PAST MISTAKES

Deadly fuel truck accidents along perilous roads are not uncommon in Kenya.

Despite warnings from authorities of the dangers of siphoning after the deaths of hundreds in previous incidents, many people continue to do it because they are pressed by poverty.

Twelve years ago, 111 people were killed and hundreds injured in Molo on the busy Nakuru-Eldoret highway on January 31, 2009.

With about 3,000 people dying in road collisions in Kenya each year, many died that year as they tried to scoop and siphon the fuel that they so desperately needed. It was a stampede.

But some poverty-stricken families say they have little choice but to siphon the fuel.

On the evening of July 13, 1998, a fuel tanker rolled into a maize plantation in Sijimbo Village in Ugenya constituency killing 33 and wounding many.

The villagers, as it had been the norm, rushed out to scoop fuel, hoping to sell it later.

Most of them reaped death, while others were left with eternal scars.

WHAT TO DO

Many tanker trucks carry highly flammable liquids and gases, including gasoline and oil.

When a tank gets punctured in an accident, it can significantly increase the risk of fire at the accident scene.

A single spark can ignite hazardous cargo, increasing the risk of burn injuries as well as the likelihood of an explosion.

When you witness such an accident, you should exercise extreme caution.

If the truck carries hazardous cargo, Distance yourself from the scene of the accident as quickly as possible.

This is not the time to run and scramble for what the tanker was carrying.

In as much as there is poverty, your life is more important than that commodity.

Listen to the driver. If the truck driver tells you to move away because of the dangers, then do so. Safely remove yourself from the scene.