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HI mobilises support after lethal explosion in Freetown


Emergency | Sierra Leone | PUBLISHED ON November 12th 2021
HI’s team assesses the needs of victims at the site of the explosion in Freetown, Sierra Leone, 2021.

HI’s team assesses the needs of victims at the site of the explosion in Freetown, Sierra Leone, 2021. | © Alimamy Bangura / HI

More than one hundred people were killed when a fuel tanker hit a heavy goods lorry and exploded on 5th November in the district of Wellington in Freetown. HI is working to assist the casualties.

Need for rehabilitation care and psychosocial support

Following the explosion of a fuel tanker in the capital of Sierra Leone, HI’s teams have travelled to the area to assess the needs of the casualties. Many of the injured will require medical and rehabilitation care. “It’s important to treat the injured, particularly serious burns victims, by providing them with rehabilitation care,” says Pauline Ducos, director of HI in Sierra Leone. “If casualties are not treated after they leave hospital, they risk losing their functional abilities and may develop a disability.”

HI’s teams also plan to help survivors overcome their ordeal by providing them and their relatives with psychosocial support. “Our current priority is to give casualties psychosocial assistance in order to prevent extensive psychological damage,” explains Mamoud Kargbo, HI’s operations manager in Freetown.

A “national disaster”

Declared a “national disaster” by the Vice President of Sierra Leone, the accident occurred when a fuel tanker collided with a heavy goods lorry carrying granite. Most of the casualties are hawkers and motorcyclists who were attempting to recover fuel from the tanker when it exploded. A total of 101 people died and some two hundred were injured, half of whom will not survive their injuries, according to the latest reports on Monday. All casualties are being treated in the city’s hospitals and clinics, which have been overwhelmed by the sudden influx of patients. Sierra Leone does not have the medical expertise to care for serious burns victims.

HI active in Sierra Leone for 25 years

HI began working in Sierra Leone in 1996, when it opened a rehabilitation centre in Bo, followed by three other centres. Since then, HI has helped raise the standard of rehabilitation care and promotes action on inclusive education, protection and mental health. HI also responds to major health emergencies, which have included the Ebola epidemic from 2013 to 2015, the mudslide in 2017, and the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Since its first mission in 1996, HI has helped tens of thousands of individuals, including people with disabilities, girls, children and women in need of assistance to alleviate the suffering caused by poor access to services and poverty.

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