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Sunday, February 15, 1998 Published at 06:16 GMT


100 feared dead in Cameroon Explosion

Reports from Cameroon say up to 100 people have been killed in an explosion after two railway wagons carrying fuel-oil derailed at the main petroleum depot in the outskirts of the capital Yaounde. Many of the victims had gone to the scene of the accident to try to collect fuel spilled from the tankers when the explosion occurred. Ofeibea Quist-Arcton has more details

The tanker wagons collided at the main oil depot near a busy intersection outside the Cameroonian capital. The accident happened close to bus and taxi terminals in a densely populated district of Yaounde.

Witnesses described pandemonium as local residents - including women, children and taxi drivers - rushed to the scene of the collision to fill up cans and buckets with fuel spilling from the damaged tankers. Then the fire broke out, engulfing the crowd and sending up a giant plume of black smoke visible throughout the city.

Unconfirmed reports say a carelessly dropped cigarette may have started the blaze. Rescue workers scrambled to put out the fire, but it appears that as many as 100 people may have been burnt alive.

Up to 100 others were being treated in hospital for burns. The accident is one of the worst disasters to hit Cameroon since it began to develop its oil industry in the 1970s.

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