RUBIRIZI- Twenty three people were Monday confirmed dead in Kyambura Trading Centre, Rubirizi District, following an explosion of a fuel tanker on Sunday.
Ten bodies were recovered on Sunday night, while 11 others were recovered on Monday by a team of police officers, UPDF soldiers, Uganda Red Cross workers and some residents.
The search for more bodies continued on Monday and the death toll could rise to 30 people, according to police.
The bodies that were recovered from the smouldering debris were taken to Lugazi Health Centre IV Mortuary in Rubirizi Town Council, while those who were injured are hospitalised at Kirembe Hospital in Kasese District and Kampala International University Hospital, in Bushenyi District.
Most bodies were burnt beyond recognition.
However, police do not have a list of missing persons.
The fuel truck was travelling from Mbarara town to Kasese District.
Police is yet to provide details of the company that was transporting the fuel.
The tanker rammed into four stationary vehicles at a road bend in the trading centre at about 3 pm on Sunday igniting a fire that consumed dozens of shops and homes.
Mr Martial Tumusiime, the Greater Bushenyi Police Spokesperson, said that friction triggered the fire.
“My son called me saying that his young brother had been burnt. We are waiting for DNA tests to identify the body so that we can give him a decent burial,” said Mr Maritazari Mbabazi, whose son Apolati Muhanguzi died in the inferno.
Muhanguzi was a senior one student at Kigarama Secondary School in Mitooma District.
Mr Yunusi Muzeyi said that he lost his elders sister who was selling roasted plantains (gonja) in the trading Centre. She had six children.
“When some people heard the explosion, they ran to their houses where they died due to suffocation, since the fire produced a lot of smoke,” Mr Tumusiime said.
Mr Tumusime told journalists that police fire fighters from Bushenyi District delayed to respond because they did not have fuel.
Some resident said police arrived at the scene two hours later when the inferno had inflicted severe damage.
Ms Mary Karooro Okurut, the minister in charge of general duties in the Office of the Prime Minister is in the area condoling with the community on behalf of central government and coordinating the delivery of relief.
The area Member of Parliament, Mr John Twesigye Ntamuhira, sustained an injury on one of his legs as residents scampered for safety as smouldering debris spewed huge flames on Monday.