Haiti in mourning after tanker fireball that killed 75

Dec 14, 2021, 10:01 PM | Updated: Dec 15, 2021, 4:04 pm
Relatives bury a woman who died in the hospital from her burn injuries caused by a gasoline truck t...

Relatives bury a woman who died in the hospital from her burn injuries caused by a gasoline truck that overturned and exploded, killing dozens in Cap-Haitien Haiti, Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Odelyn Joseph)

(AP Photo/Odelyn Joseph)

CAP-HAITIEN, Haiti (AP) — Nelly Joseph picked through the twisted metal roofing, overturned furnishings and rubble of her charred home Wednesday, unsure of where her dead son had been buried or where she would sleep after blasts from a flipped gas tanker destroyed their house.

Late Monday night, Joseph heard a loud noise and got out of bed. She heard people saying a gas truck had crashed, so she grabbed her identification card and went out to join them. With fuel in short supply all across Haiti, some neighbors in the northern city of Cap-Haitien saw a chance to scoop up valuable spilled gasoline.

Then the first explosions occurred. Her son Josue Junior Julemis, 36, hustled two of his children to safety. Then he returned to get his identification card from their home.

That’s when a much stronger explosion destroyed the three-room house they shared, blackening its walls and blowing off the roof.

Joseph’s son was burned all over his face and body, she said. He died at the hospital. His wife and 14-year-old daughter were burned too and hospitalized.

The city buried his body in a mass grave, but Joseph doesn’t know where.

He was one of at least 75 people killed in the explosion, said Jean-Henri Petit, coordinator of the civil protection agency.

“He was a great guy,” Joseph said through tears. “Whenever I’m sick he pays for me at the hospital. Now he is gone, if I die I don’t have anyone to bury me.”

“I lost everything,” said the 56-year-old who sells peanut butter spread on cassava in the street. “Now I’m on the streets (with) nowhere to sleep or stay.”

On Wednesday, residents continued to pick through charred vehicles and buildings adjacent to the tanker truck’s skeleton.

Holding rags to their noses, some peeked under a white sheet draped over a body.

While most of the explosion’s victims were buried in a mass grave at a local cemetery, others were interred Wednesday in individual graves with distraught relatives present.

Isaac Besa, a cemetery director in Cap-Haitien, said bodies of the victims were continuing to arrive at cemeteries after a justice of the peace approved the removal of the bodies.

The explosion battered the concrete three-story façade of the building that separated Joseph’s home from the street. One side had housed a small shop selling soft drinks, the other housed a business selling cement for construction.

Early reports indicate that the tanker was trying to avoid an oncoming motorcycle when it veered and flipped early Tuesday.

Onlookers then rushed to the scene with buckets to collect what they could of the tanker’s cargo, likely for sale on the black market, as the fuel drained toward a nearby pile of smoldering trash.

Prime Minister Ariel Henry, himself a physician, visited a hospital Tuesday as victims bandaged head to toe were fighting for their lives amid a shortage of medical supplies and health workers in an impoverished nation that has been bombarded by disasters in recent months — riots, a wave of kidnappings, a powerful earthquake that killed more than 2,200 people and the July 7 assassination of the president.

“The entire Haitian nation is grieving,” Henry said on Twitter while declaring three days of national mourning. “It is with a torn heart that I see the critical condition of some of our compatriots admitted to this facility.”


Associated Press journalist Pierre-Richard Luxama reported this story in Cap-Haitien and AP writer Evens Sanon reported from Port au Prince, Haiti. AP writer Christopher Sherman in New York contributed to this report.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Editorial Roundup: United States

Excerpts from recent editorials in the United States and abroad: June 25 The Washington Post says GOP support for gun bill offers hope for more reform Fifteen Republicans in the Senate and 14 in the House joined with congressional Democrats this week to break more than 25 years of inaction on gun safety. That these […]
15 hours ago
FILE - Andrew Giuliani, left, a Republican candidate for Governor of New York, is joined by his fat...
Associated Press

Heckler charged with assault after confronting Rudy Giuliani

NEW YORK (AP) — A heckler who clapped former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani on the back at a campaign event was arrested, jailed for more than 24 hours and now faces an assault charge. The episode Sunday at a Staten Island supermarket produced dueling accounts, with Giuliani likening the touch to being hit […]
15 hours ago
FILE - Frontier Airlines jets sit at gates at Denver International Airport on Sept. 22, 2019, in De...
Associated Press

Frontier and Spirit stocks fall heading into key merger vote

Shares of Frontier Airlines and Spirit Airlines tumbled Monday after their improved merger proposal won a key endorsement just days ahead of a crucial shareholder vote. Frontier CEO Barry Biffle said Monday that he is optimistic Spirit shareholders will approve Frontier’s latest stock-and-cash offer for Spirit when they vote Thursday. “I think we have a […]
15 hours ago
Associated Press

Helicopter pilot helping Alaska firefighters dies in crash

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A helicopter contracted to support firefighting efforts on an Interior Alaska blaze crashed after takeoff, killing the pilot, officials said Monday. The fatality was the first related to Alaska wildfires in 22 years. The pilot was identified as Douglas Ritchie, 56, of Wasilla, Alaska State Troopers said. He was the lone […]
15 hours ago
Associated Press

TreeHouse, Devon rise; Spirit Airlines, Royal Caribbean fall

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks that traded heavily or had substantial price changes Monday: Spirit Airlines Inc., down $1.95 to $22.57. Frontier Group sweetened its buyout offer for the airline. TreeHouse Foods Inc., up 94 cents to $41.54. The food maker is reportedly considering selling its meal prep business. Devon Energy Corp., up $4.02 to […]
15 hours ago
Associated Press

How major US stock indexes fared Monday 6/27/2022

Stocks ended mixed after a day of wavering between gains and losses Monday as the market cools off following a rare winning week. The S&P 500, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nasdaq fell. Small-company stocks rose. Declines in technology and communication stocks, and in several big retailers and travel-related companies weighed on the […]
15 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Best retirement savings rates hit 4.30%

Maximize your retirement savings with guaranteed fixed rates up to 4.30%. Did you know there is a financial product that can give you great interest rates as you build your retirement savings and provide you with a paycheck for life once you retire? It might sound too good to be true but it is not; this product is called an annuity.
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Update your child’s vaccines before kindergarten

So, your little one starts kindergarten soon. How exciting! You still have a few months before the school year starts, so now’s the time to make sure students-to-be have the vaccines needed to stay safe as they head into a new chapter of life.
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

ADHS mobile program brings COVID-19 vaccines and boosters to Arizonans

The Arizona Department of Health Services and partner agencies are providing even more widespread availability by making COVID-19 vaccines available in neighborhoods through trusted community partners.
Haiti in mourning after tanker fireball that killed 75