Concern Worldwide helping identify bodies in Sierra Leone after oil tanker blast

November 12, 2021

Concern Worldwide is helping identify bodies and also providing medical supplies in Sierra Leone in the aftermath of the fuel tanker fire that has killed over 90 people.

Concern is helping government authorities to ensure that grieving family members will be able to find the graves of loved ones not yet identified who died in the Freetown blast on Friday and who are being buried today.

They are linking the results of tissue samples being sent for DNA analysis with the graves of those being buried to enable clear identification of the deceased.

“This is the worst disaster in terms of loss of life to have hit Sierra Leone since the mudslide disaster in 2017,” said Concern’s Sierra Leone Country Director, Austin Kennan in Freetown.

“Our Concern team is assisting the local authorities in any way that we can.”

“We have experience from our Ebola response with reuniting family members with the graves of their dead loved ones who had to be buried before they could be identified. We have been asked by the Ministry of Health and Sanitation to play a leading role in supporting them on this.”

“The corpses are being numbered, and tissue samples are also numbered before being taken for burial. These are being sent abroad for DNA testing and it could take some months for results to return.”

“Graves are also being numbered so we can identify people in the coming months. We hope that this will bring some solace to those who have lost loved ones in this awful and heart-breaking tragedy, to whom we offer our sincere condolences.”

Concern is also helping local authorities and other non-governmental organizations with their response by providing medical supplies to health facilities.

These include burn injury items like sterile gloves and wound dressings and helping with logistics by providing fuel, transport, and other items and services needed.

Concern has been working in Sierra Leone, one of the poorest countries in the world with huge problems with poverty, poor health facilities, and conflict, since 1996.

Media Contact: Candance Patel-Taylor, Director of Communications at [email protected] or 312-690-3793.