JUBA: The death toll from an oil tanker explosion in Western Equatoria state, South Sudan, this week has risen to 186, according to a regional official.
The blast occurred in the town of Maridi on Wednesday as crowds gathered around the vehicle to siphon oil after it veered off the road.
An official had previously warned the death toll could continue to rise as the country did not have adequate facilities to treat the burns.
“We are on the ground evacuating some serious cases to a safe location for medical attention,” Wilson Thomas Yanga, Maridi county commissioner, said.
Such incidents have happened before in the east African region where oil tankers often have to travel long distances along potholed roads and pass through poor communities.
There are few tarmac roads in South Sudan, one of Africa’s poorest states, which has been mired in conflict since December 2013.
Rebels and the government signed a peace deal in August, although the ceasefire has since been violated.
Ateny said the tanker explosion was not related to the conflict. “This was an accident,” he said.
In June 2013, at least 30 people were killed and scores injured when a broken-down oil tanker exploded on a highway in Uganda while they were trying to siphon oil.