Amidst sorrowful atmosphere in the country, Tanzania on Sunday laid to rest most of the 71 people who died while trying to collect leaking petrol from an overturned fuel tanker that exploded.
President John Magufuli declared a period of mourning through Monday. He was represented at funerals by Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa.
It could be recalled that the deadly blast, which took place Saturday near the town of Morogoro, west of the economic capital Dar es Salaam, is the latest in a series of similar disasters in Africa.
Mr Majaliwa spoke at a ceremony in Kola, less than 20 minutes from where the disaster occurred some 200 kilometres west of Dar es Salaam.
He gave a new death toll of 71, along with 59 injured.
White coffins were lowered into graves by members of the security forces, after which Islamic or Christian clerics said brief prayers and tossed handfuls of earth on them.
A Pentecostal pastor named Mechak said in a service broadcast on television that “this should serve as a lesson to us. When there is an accident like this we should steer clear and let rescue workers do their job.”
DNA tests will be carried out on bodies that were burnt beyond recognition, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Jenista Mhagama said, adding that families could take the remains of their loved ones and organise their own burials if they preferred.
A woman who had accompanied her neighbour to retrieve the body of a victim at the hospital said: “When I saw the injured my whole body trembled. They had been burnt like pieces of meat.”
Witnesses said the truck tipped over as it tried to avoid a motorcycle, and locals quickly converged on the scene to collect fuel.
The explosion was triggered when a man tried to retrieve the trucks battery, creating sparks that ignited the fuel, according to the regions governor.