At least 7 people died and more than 50 injured after a fuel truck exploded today in Bent Bayya, a town in southern Libya located between Sabha and Ubari, according to several reports from health officials.
The incident took place during early morning hours when, according to eyewitnesses, a crowd of people gathered around a vehicle carrying a fuel container and began unloading fuel from it, before fire broke out. The blaze spread from the vehicle and into the container, killing and wounding dozens. The cause of fire is yet to be identified.
Citing medical sources, Reuters reported that five bodies were found burned either inside or near vehicles, adding that the death toll was expected to rise as there were serious cases among the injured.
According to Sabha Medical Center, dozens of injured people were rushed into the facility, some of whom were in critical condition. The Libyan National Army (LNA) sent a military plane to transport the critically injured to Benghazi to receive treatment.
Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh, prime minister of the Tripoli-based Government of National Unity, said in a tweet that authorities were “closely following the disaster in Bent Bayya municipality.” He said that instructions were given to transfer the injured people to major hospitals.
Libya has suffered a fuel shortage since 2014 when the country was divided by a civil war in which rival factions are battling for power following an uprising that toppled long time leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. In many cities citizens have to wait in long queues, sometimes for hours, to refuel their vehicles.