Another day passes and another tragedy happens. In the case of a tanker explosion in Tanzania though the deaths of at least 62 people were easily avoidable. Here’s a tidbit from the Fox News story:
“Witnesses told the Associated Press that a crowd had gathered around the fuel tanker after it was involved in an accident early Saturday. People then rushed to try to siphon fuel, but the tanker burst into flames.”
Another insightful piece of the article:
“People getting killed in explosions while stealing fuel from incapacitated tankers are fairly frequent in East Africa, though the Saturday explosion is among the deadliest in Tanzania. Those stealing the fuel usually sell it to motorists for cheap.”
Apparently the explosion happened in a rather busy part of the town of Morogoro which may explain why there were so many injured however the first thought in my mind when I think of a gasoline tanker leaking near me is to get away. I wonder what’s going through the mind of someone standing next to a geyser of fuel to collect some and make a few bucks?
I saw this story out of Tanzania and it reminded me of a similar case out of Mexico that involved a pipeline explosion. In January of this year at least 96 people were killed near Tlahuelilpan, Mexico as they were trying to collect gas from an illegally tapped pipeline. I’ll be quoting a few bits from the Los Angeles Times story below, starting with a concerned father:
“‘I came here in the night looking for my son, walking through charred bodies lying on the ground,’ said Martin Francisco Trejo Hernandez, 55. ‘Some people were still alive, screaming in pain, screaming for help. I never imagined I would see such a sight.’”
It seems that shortly after the pipeline failed it was swarmed by hundreds of people with jerry cans, buckets, and barrels:
“Soon, as many as 800 people had converged on the site to gather gasoline, which gushed like a geyser from the ruptured pipeline more than 20 feet into the air, Luis Cresencio Sandoval, Mexico’s defense secretary, told reporters Saturday.”
It’s really amazing how much static electricity can be built up in your clothing or other objects that don’t conduct well (easily over 20,000V in dry conditions) so it’s really no surprise that as hundreds of people were getting some gas from pipeline fountain that eventually something went boom. You can see this in the video but here’s another bit from the L.A. Times:
“Videos taken before the blast showed soldiers standing around the scene who did not appear to make efforts to disperse the mob.
Cresencio, the defense secretary, sought to justify the military’s actions, saying the small number of soldiers had been unable to deter a sometimes “aggressive” crowd.”
It seems that a lot of the criminal element in Mexico is moving from drugs to mining and petroleum and the incident I mentioned above is just one of the most recent and deadly and certainly not an aberration:
I’m glad that I’m not so desperate as one who is willing to be drenched in gasoline to sell to people who actually have cars. Even if I was destitute, I believe that I might try a few other things first. I’m glad that I’m an American and pray that my country never turns into a Mexico or Tanzania…
I’ll embed a few notable comments from the Fox News article before signing off for the night: