100 Die in oil fire

MOLO, Kenya - Rescuers combed a crash site in Kenya yesterday morning where oil spilt from a truck caught fire and killed about 100 people in one of the east African nation's worst disasters of recent times.

MOLO, Kenya - Rescuers combed a crash site in Kenya yesterday morning where oil spilt from a truck caught fire and killed about 100 people in one of the east African nation's worst disasters of recent times.

Regional authorities at the scene revised the death toll down to 94 from 111 after difficulties counting the charred bodies under darkness in the central town of Molo on Saturday night.

"We counted 89 bodies last night and five died this morning," Rift Valley commissioner Hassan Noor Hassan said yesterday.

The Red Cross said 110 had died, a health ministry spokesman said 97, and police gave a toll of 91.

A truck crashed near Molo on Saturday, spilling oil that burst into flames as hundreds of locals crowded round in search of free fuel.

Many were burnt beyond recognition. Rescuers said someone may have accidentally dropped a cigarette, though there was also suspicion someone angered at being blocked by police may have started the fire on purpose. After the truck careered off the road, motorbike riders and others descended on the vehicle in the hope of scooping up petrol, witnesses said.

Rescue operations went on throughout the night amid scenes of chaos and anguish. Government ministers visited the scene yesterday morning and prayed with victims in hospital.

"This is a national tragedy, and the government will foot all the bills," said Public Health Minister Beth Mugo. - Reuters

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