- The causalities include employees of different nationalities, the most affected are said to be Indians.
- Huge plumes of dense black smoke billowed above the factory.
- Preliminary observations indicate a lack of necessary safety measures and equipment at the factory.
At least 23 people have been killed after a fire broke out when a gas tanker exploded in a ceramics factory in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum. More than one hundred people were injured and are being treated in various local hospitals with most of them suffering from burns. Confirming the incident, the northern Khartoum’s Bahri district police director, Brigadier General Hassan Abdullahi, said that six of those wounded were in critical condition. It is therefore feared that the death toll could rise.
The causalities include employees of different nationalities, the most affected are said to be Indians. According to the Indian embassy in Khartoum, over 50 Indians were working at the ceramic factory at the time of the accident.
“Have just received the tragic news of a major blast in a ceramic factory, ‘saloomi’ in the Bahri area of the capital Khartoum in Sudan. Deeply grieved to learn that some Indian workers have lost their lives and some have been seriously injured,” Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, Indian Minister of External Affairs, tweeted. “Our prayers are with the workers and their families.”
Witnesses said that the fire erupted when a gas tanker exploded when unloading its shipment at the factory. The blast was said to so powerful that it blew the tanker. “The explosion was loud. Several cars that were parked in the compound of the factory also caught fire,” an employee of an adjacent factory told the AFP news agency. It is claimed that most of the workers who were inside the factory as the fire erupted did not manage to come out alive while most of those injured were outside.
A video footage that circulated online showed an explosion launch a ball of fire into the sky with workers scrambling to seek cover. Huge plumes of dense black smoke billowed above the factory. Sudan state TV reported that the fire fighters cleared the area pulling bodies out and leaving the factory a charred ruin. It added that the blast had to major loss of life and property.
The cause of the fire is unclear and government has ordered for an investigation into the incident. “Preliminary observations indicate a lack of necessary safety measures and equipment at the factory, in addition to random storage of flammable material,” the government said in a statement. The government has expressed its heartfelt condolences and wished those injured a speedy recovery. The council of Ministers has directed the Ministry of Health to appeal for blood donation in order to help the injured.
Sudan has suffered major industrial accidents in the recent months, this has raised concerns about adequacy of health and safety regulations and its preparedness when such calamities occur. Earlier this year, the presidential palace in Khartoum was partially damaged by a fire.