Student killed in Petrol Container Fire

By HSE East Africa | Saturday Apr 20, 2019

A Form Three student died while a 36-year-old man was seriously injured when a container with 26 drums of petrol, each holding 500 litres, caught fire at the Mokowe Jetty, Lamu County.

Eyewitnesses said the fire that broke out at about 12.30pm on Friday was caused by a generator that was being used to pump petrol from a lorry to the container. Mokowe Jetty Offloaders Association Chairman Mohamed Athman Yusuf said student Mohamed Farid, 16, was the son of the owner of the container.

A faulty generator pumping fuel from a lorry into the container is said to have produced sparks that caused the explosion. The youth was holding the fuel pipe. "A lorry had come from Mombasa to Mokowe with petrol. When it was connected to the container to pump petrol into the drums, a generator normally used to run the pump produced sparks which caused the container to blow up," he said.

"The one who died was inside the container with his assistant. We tried to put out the fire but were overwhelmed,” said Mr Yusuf.

The injured man was taken to King Fahad County Hospital and the body to the mortuary there.

Mr Yusuf pointed out that the county had not responded by 3pm.

Resident Abdalla Omar pointed an accusing finger at the Lamu government, saying it failed to respond to the tragedy. "The county hasn't responded up to now. It is unfortunate that we were left on our own. We expected them to bring a fire engine but we haven't seen any,” Mr Omar.

Kenya Navy Soldiers from the Manda Naval Base who were sent to the scene put out the fire in at least six hours.

Mokowe Jetty on Lamu's mainland has at least four petrol containers. Residents have called on the county to come up with laws regulating their operations because of the risks they face.

Addressing journalists shortly after the incident, Basuba Ward Representative Barissa Deko said the county needed laws against the sale of petrol in residential areas. “The incident should serve as a warning. It would be better for fuel dealers to be allocated a separate place for their operations. It’s risky for petrol to be sold like soda in every kiosk. It’s especially dangerous when a fire breaks out,” said Mr Deko.

Abdishukri Osman, the Kenya Ports Authority's Lamu Jetty Superintendent, said safety considerations were made in construction of the jetty in Lamu. “The new jetty will have separate sections, including petrol stations, and a fire station for quick response to tragedies," he said.

Mr Osman asked business people to be cautious and the county to distribute fire fighting equipment.


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