DAKAR, Senegal — A fuel tanker exploded on the outskirts of Sierra Leone’s seaside capital late Friday, killing at least 98 people and wounding dozens of others in one of the deadliest accidents the West African nation has endured in years.

The tanker burst into flames at a busy intersection after colliding with a truck in Freetown’s suburb of Wellington, turning the night sky orange, photos and video show.

“I’ve never seen something like this before in all my years of practice as a surgeon,” said Mustapha Kabba, head of Connaught Hospital, the city’s largest medical center. “We have a lot of severe injuries. A lot of burns. A lot of corpses.”

Practically every doctor in the area rushed to the hospital and treated victims through the night, he said. By Saturday, medical workers were scrambling to find enough IV fluids, antibiotics and other essentials for soothing burns. Family members gathered outside, waiting for news about loved ones.

At least 92 people were injured in the blast, Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr wrote on her Facebook page, adding, “The video and photo footage making rounds on social media are harrowing.”

People had crowded around the crash to collect leaking fuel when the tanker blew up, witnesses said. Anything spilled was viewed as wasteful in a community where many struggled to afford gas. The wreck didn’t seem dangerous until it burst into flames.

“There are dead bodies all around,” one witness, Jusu Jaka Yormah, told reporters at the site, who shared a recording of his account in a WhatsApp voice message. “There are people screaming, people burning alive.”

Nearby cars and buildings quickly caught fire.

“The firefighters came, but there was nothing they could do by then,” Yormah said. “The blaze was so much. There was nothing they could do to contain the inferno.”

Officials initially said a bus was involved in the accident but clarified on Saturday that the tanker hit a truck carrying granite stones as it pulled into a gas station.

“Both drivers came out of their vehicles and warned community residents to stay off the scene,” Sierra Leone’s National Disaster Management Agency wrote in a statement, but people kept scooping up the gas in makeshift containers.

The death toll is likely to rise, officials warned, as more bodies are recovered from the debris.

The nation’s president, who was in Scotland on Saturday for the U.N. climate summit, tweeted an image of people standing around the smoking wreckage.

“My profound sympathies with families who have lost loved ones,” President Julius Maada Bio wrote, “and those who have been maimed as a result.”

The accident happened about 10 miles east of the site of another major disaster, some noted: the Sugarloaf mountain mudslide, the deadliest in Sierra Leone’s history, which claimed more than 1,000 lives in 2017 and destroyed thousands of homes.

Similar tanker blasts have killed hundreds of people in African countries in recent years — usually involving victims trying to bottle the leaking fuel. A pair of 2019 explosions in Niger and Tanzania, for instance, killed at least 165 people combined, and a similar calamity in Kenya this summer killed 13.

Abdul Samba Brima in Freetown contributed to this report.