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Dozens killed in petrol truck explosion in northern Haiti

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A resident looks at collapsed tin roof inside a home damaged by the explosion in Cap-Hatien.
A resident looks at collapsed tin roof inside a home damaged by the explosion in Cap-Hatien.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Joseph Odelyn

A truck carrying petrol has exploded in northern Haiti, killing more than 50 people and injuring dozens of others.

The blast occurred late on Monday in the city of Cap-Haitien, Prime Minister Ariel Henry said, adding that he was devastated.

“Three days of national mourning will be decreed throughout the territory, in memory of the victims of this tragedy that the entire Haitian nation is grieving,” he tweeted.

Henry said his administration was deploying field hospitals to the area to help those affected.

Dozens of bodies lay on the street hours after the explosion as a small crowd stood around them, with buildings and overturned vehicles were still smoldering.

Patrick Almonor, deputy mayor of Cap-Haitien, told The Associated Press that at least 53 deaths and more than 100 injured have been reported following the explosion that burned around 20 homes.

He said he expects the number of deaths to keep rising because people who died in their homes have not yet been counted.

“It's horrible what happened,” he told AP. “We lost so many lives.”

Almonor added that local hospitals are in dire need of more nurses, doctors, and basic medical supplies to help those injured.

Dave Larose, a civil engineer who works in Cap-Haitien, told The Associated Press that he was driving when he saw ambulances and a crowd of people gathered along a road around 01:00 local time.

He said he observed how some people were using buckets to scoop up gasoline from the truck and the street to take back to their house.

The explosion occurred as Haiti struggles with a severe shortage of fuel and spiralling gas prices.

“It's terrible what our country has to go through,” Larose said on Tuesday.

Former Prime Minister Claude Joseph also mourned the victims, tweeting, “I share the pain and sorrow of all the people."