The country’s Interior Minister, Mohamed Bazoum, said near the site of the blast that 37 people were hospitalised with burns injuries – many of them in a critical condition. In addition to the 55 charred bodies recovered from the scene, a presidency statement released later on Monday said three victims had since succumbed to their wounds, raising the death toll to 58.
Niger’s President, Mahamadou Issoufou, visited some of the injured people at the National Hospital on Monday.
The incident happened late Sunday (May 5) night on the highway linking Niger’s Diori Hamani international airport to the capital Niamey.
The fuel tanker fell on its side at around 2300 local time (2200GMT) on Sunday, and caused panic when it exploded around 0300 (0200GMT) the next morning, in a region where security has deteriorated sharply in recent years due to attacks by jihadist groups, as well as ethnic clashes.
Bazoum said people rushed to the site to syphon the fuel when the tanker fell over, and that investigators believed a spark from a motorcycle may have caused the explosion.
(Production: Abdel-Kader Boubacar Mazou, Yvonne Bell, Lucy Marks)