Sixty people died while 70 were seriously injured in Morogoro town, Tanzania, on Saturday morning when a fuel tanker burst into flames.
Reports indicated that the victims included motorcyclists who rushed to the scene in Msamvu to collect leaking fuel after the vehicle overturned.
Others were food vendors along Dar es Salaam-Morogoro highway.
Morogoro Regional Police Commander Wilbroad Mutafungwa confirmed the number of casualties.
The accident occurred about 200 metres from Msamvu Bus Station in Morogoro town.
Some witnesses said one of the people who went to scramble for the fuel had been smoking a cigarette.
“This has never happened in Morogoro town. The fuel spilled about 100 metres along the road,” Morogoro Regional Commissioner Steven Kwebwe said at the scene.
Personnel from Tanzania People’s Defence Force (TPDF) and the fire brigade responded to the incident.
They took the bodies to the mortuary at Morogoro Regional Hospital.
Tanker fires have become a common feature on the continent as the poor jostle to scoop free fuel.
In January 2009, an overturned tanker exploded near Sachang’wan in today’s Nakuru County in Kenya.
It was said that the incident that left at least 113 people dead and more than 200 injured resulted from a lit cigarette or a spark that lit up the spilled fuel.
Several fire incidents have occurred in Kenya, where petroleum products are still transported by road, but with a smaller number of casualties.
In January, a fuel truck driver died after his lorry burst into flames in Narok, on collision with on-coming cars.
In Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil producer, the incidents have been as common.
In June 2018, an oil tanker exploded in Lagos during rush hour killing at least nine people and injuring at least five.
In January, another oil tanker overturned and exploded in the Nigerian city, killing many of the dozens of people who had been collecting leaking fuel.
In 2008, a bulldozer rammed an oil tanker leading to an explosion that killed more than 100 people in Lagos.
A year earlier, at least 45 people were killed in the same city in an explosion as they siphoned fuel from an underground pipe.