'It's horrible what happened': Dozens killed in Haiti truck explosion

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A truck carrying petrol has overturned and exploded in a fireball in northern Haiti, engulfing cars and homes in flames, killing more than 50 people and injuring dozens.

It is the latest disaster to hit a country where troubles deepened greatly this year.

The explosion occurred late Monday (Tuesday afternoon AEDT) in the coastal city of Cap-Haitien. Survivors rushed outside and yelled as they observed how the fire consumed part of their neighbourhood.

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Hours later, a local hospital was overwhelmed with injured people as it pleaded for basic supplies and more medical staff.

Dozens of bodies lay near the explosion site as some people used buckets to scoop up petrol from the truck and the street to take back to their homes, Dave Larose, a civil engineer who works in Cap-Haitien, told The Associated Press.

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

The problems recently forced hospitals to turn away patients while petrol stations, schools and businesses temporarily shut down and the US and Canadian governments urged citizens to leave while they still could.

"It's terrible what our country has to go through," Mr Larose said.

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The civil engineer told The Associated Press he was driving when he saw ambulances and a crowd of people gathered along a road about 1am.

"It's terrible what our country has to go through," Mr Larose said.

Officials believed the blast occurred after the petrol truck overturned after apparently trying to avoid hitting a motorcycle, Patrick Almonor, deputy mayor of Cap-Haitien, told The Associated Press.

He said at least 53 deaths and more than 100 injuries have been reported following the explosion that burned about 20 homes near the site.

Cr Almonor said he expected the number of deaths to keep rising because people who died in their homes had not yet been counted.

"It's horrible what happened," he said.

"We lost so many lives."

Cr Almonor said a local hospital was in dire need of more nurses, doctors and basic medical supplies to help those injured.

"We are overwhelmed," a person identified as Dr Calhil Turenne told Le Nouvelliste newspaper.

Prime Minister Ariel Henry said he was devastated and his administration was deploying field hospitals to the area to help those affected.

"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 said, in a tweet.

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

Haiti is still trying to recover from the July 7 presidential assassination and a 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck in mid-August, killing more than 2200 people and destroying tens of thousands of homes.

The country of more than 11 million people also has been hit by a spike in gang-related kidnappings, including 17 missionaries with a US religious organisation who were abducted in mid-October. Five of them have been released but another 12 are still being held.

Now, Haitians find themselves mourning the victims of the explosion,

Source: 9News