There have been disturbing images from footage broadcast on local media outlets with charred bodies seen in the streets at the scene of the explosion.
Vice-President Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh who visited the scene of the disaster called it a “national disaster”.
The head of Sierra Leone’s National Disaster Management Agency, Brima Bureh Sesay said “It’s a terrible, terrible accident,” he told local media in a video shared from the scene.
Ecowas leaders meeting in Ghana’s capital, Accra for an extra ordinary session of the authority of heads of state and government summit on Mali and Guinea mourn those killed.
The Ecowas chair, Nana Akufo-Addo called for the observance of a minute silence in honour of those killed in Sierra Leone.
The World Health Organization has already promised to send supplies and deploy specialists in burn injuries.
“We will provide more support as needed at this terrible time for the people of Sierra Leone,” it said on Twitter.
Explosions from fuel tanks are common in some African countries. In 2019, a tanker explosion in Tanzania killed 85 people, while around 50 people were killed in a similar disaster in Democratic Republic of Congo in 2018.