Hospitals Receive Burn Victims from Gas Tanker Explosion in Northern Haiti

At least 13 patients triaged to Hinche, Mirebalais for specialized care

Posted on Dec 16, 2021

clinicians and patients outside helicopter
Medical staff transport injured patients to hospitals, following the tanker explosion in Cap-Haïtien on December 13, 2021. Photo Courtesy of United Nations

Zanmi Lasante has received 13 burn victims at hospitals in Hinche and Mirebalais within the past 72 hours following a gas tanker explosion late Monday night in northern Haiti, which killed more than 70 people and injured dozens more.

The hospitals supported by Zanmi Lasante, Partners In Health’s sister organization in Haiti, are among few facilities in the country with the specialized staff and services necessary to tend to burn victims. As of Thursday morning, nine patients had been transferred from Cap-Haïtien, the site of the deadly explosion, to Hôpital Sainte-Thérèse in Hinche and four to Hôpital Universitaire in Mirebalais—with more patients expected to arrive by Haiti Air Ambulance, a nonprofit organization that assists with emergency helicopter services. In Mirebalais, all four patients remain in serious condition, and most have a poor prognosis.

Zanmi Lasante staff confirmed that 10 burn victims remain in Cap-Haïtien, with five anticipating immediate transfer to Hôpital Universitaire in Mirebalais. While the facility does not have a dedicated burn unit, the hospital is home to an emergency department, multiple operating rooms, and an intensive care unit—the only such service in the public sector in Haiti. Clinicians said this and similar other incidents emphasize the importance of creating a burn center in the future to tend to victims’ specific needs.

Government officials continue to assess damage following the gas tanker explosion, which occurred around midnight on Monday. According to news reports, the tanker driver swerved to avoid a motorcycle, which caused the truck to flip and begin leaking fuel. Given the extreme and chronic gas shortages nationwide, passersby noticed the leaking gas and began filling containers, putting them in danger when the vehicle burst into flames.

Zanmi Lasante staff anticipate further patient transfers in coming days and say they are specifically in need of mattresses, bed sheets, mosquito nets, gauze, and analgesic cream to treat pain.

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