Community Mourns After Totota Tragedy: Fuel Tanker Explosion Claims 75 Lives; IMS Mobilizes Strong Support

A Blazing Scene of the Explosion [Photo credit: IP News]

Monrovia, Liberia: January 10, 2024: In a heartbreaking incident, the Totota Fuel Tanker Explosion has taken the lives of 75 individuals so far, as disclosed in the latest Situation Report (SitRep) by the Incidence Management System (IMS) on January 10, 2024. The community is now in mourning, prompting urgent responses from a spectrum of stakeholders, including the One Health Platform.

Situation Report (SitRep) No. 09, January 9, 2024, from the IMS reveals that out of the 152 affected individuals, including 3 females, 75 have tragically lost their lives; among them are a pregnant woman and two police officers. Furthermore, 21 individuals have been discharged, while the remaining 56 victims continue to receive medical treatment and care.

Hospital Statistics

Hospital# of cases# of DeathDischargedCurrent AdmissionCFR%
Phebe Hospital37221145.4%
JFK Hospital29200969.0%
ELWA Hospital22160672.7%
14th Military Hospital1150645.5%
Catholic Hospital50050.0%
Latter Day Saint Clinic20020.0%
Total 15275215649.3%
[Data Source: SitRep N0. 9, January 9, 2024, IMS, Totota Fuel Tanker Explosion]

On December 26, 2023, Totota in Lower Bong County witnessed a catastrophic incident when a fuel tanker, en route from Monrovia to Gbarnga, exploded after accidentally colliding with a drainage along the major highway. The unidentified tanker, laden with petroleum products, erupted into flames hours after tumbling into the drainage, opposite the Upper Room Church in the Mulbah Hill Community.

Local authorities in Bong County reported the involvement of over two hundred residents in extracting petroleum products from the tanker, resulting in numerous injuries and fatalities. The tragic incident also triggered a power outage in Totota, severely impacting essential health services.

The power disruption has taken a toll on critical health services, such as the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI), Maternal and Child Health (MCH), and other crucial healthcare provisions. With the town grappling with the aftermath, emergency response and recovery efforts are underway.

In response to this multifaceted crisis, the Government of Liberia, through the IMS, has conveyed heartfelt condolences to the affected families and reaffirmed its commitment to providing holistic support. The IMS is working in collaboration with health authorities, partners, and the community to coordinate efforts addressing the immediate needs of victims and their families, who are currently receiving care across facilities in Bong, Margibi, and Montserrado Counties.

As part of the integrated response plan, the IMS has mobilized the deployment of medical professionals, counselors, and essential personnel to provide ongoing medical treatment and emotional support. Additionally, the IMS is actively working to supply healthcare facilities with essential medical equipment and medications, reinforcing their capabilities in dealing with the aftermath of the explosion.

The Totota Fuel Tanker Explosion not only claimed lives but has left many in critical condition, underscoring the urgent need for comprehensive support and intervention. This tragic incident has also prompted a renewed emphasis on safety measures and regulations concerning the transportation and handling of hazardous materials, highlighting the importance of proactive measures to prevent similar incidents in the future.

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