MOLO, Kenya — The explosion of an overturned tanker could be felt for miles, and the moments that followed haunted survivors: people ablaze, their clothes burned off, running to the bush in a futile effort to escape the pain and begging for help.
More than 100 people were killed, and another 200 injured in the inferno overwhelmed hospitals Sunday, where victims lined the floors, moaning in pain. Authorities expected the death toll to rise and were searching the scorched woods for corpses.
Hundreds of impoverished people had flocked to the overturned tanker Saturday to siphon fuel when it exploded, likely sparked by a cigarette.
"Everybody was screaming and most of them were running with fire on their bodies, they were just running into the bush," said Charles Kamau, 22, who was driving through Molo on Saturday night when he saw the road blocked by hundreds of people with gerry cans, plastic bottles and buckets — anything to siphon free fuel.
The explosion was one of this East African nation's deadliest accidents and highlighted the desperation of people living in the poorest continent in the world.
"Poverty is pushing our people into doing desperate things just to get through one more day," Prime Minister Raila Odinga said at a hospital in Nakuru, near Molo.