The incident occurred on Wednesday on a road some 250 kilometres (155 miles) west of the capital Juba, close to the small town of Maridi, with the victims including locals who tried to scoop up the fuel spill.
“According to the reports that we received, the death toll is 186. The number of injured is bigger than that. We are unable to ascertain the actual number up to now,” South Sudan´s Information Minister Michael Makuei told reporters, confirming earlier reports that at least 150 were dead.
“That is a very unfortunate situation,” he said, adding President Salva Kiir had declared three days of national mourning.
“All the flags are expected to be at half mast with effect from today. The president and the government extend heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims,” he added.
Local media reports said doctors were struggling to cope with limited supplies to treat severe burns, including a lack of painkillers.
The local government director of Maridi, John Saki, told South Sudan´s Gurtong news site that about a thousand people crowded around the tanker to gather fuel after it crashed on the roadside, with many coming from a nearby school.
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