Sierra Leone’s latest tragedy

In the News podcast: Sally Hayden on the fuel tanker explosion that killed more than 100 people

Last Friday night in Sierra Leone what otherwise might have been a routine accident turned into a blaze which has left more than 100 people dead and many more with life altering burn injuries.

The catastrophe started when a truck collided with an oil tanker in the capital Freetown and started spilling fuel onto a busy street.

With a litre of fuel costing more than a day’s wages for many, a crowd quickly formed, with people scooping up the precious cargo before it seeped into the ground.

Then a spark flew and the fuel lit up. People died and hospitals, ill-equipped to deal with so many burn victims, started to fill up.


It is just the latest tragedy one of the poorest countries in the world has had to contend with. In recent years Sierra Leone has been hit with deadly mud slides, the Ebola virus, a terrible war and an almost endless cycle of desperate poverty among its eight million people.

Sally Hayden was in Freetown when the deadly explosion happened and was on the scene within hours.

She talks to Conor Pope about what she saw, the inequality at the root of the tragedy and explains why there is so much more to Sierra Leone than an endless cycle of heartache.

You can listen to the podcast here: