First there was war, now fire

September 21, 2015 OPINION/NEWS


Peter Louis

Since last Thursday the ICRC and South Sudan Red Cross (SSRC) emergency action teams have been working tirelessly around the clock to help victims of the fuel truck explosion in Maridi which claimed the lives of over 170 people.

A full ICRC surgical team supported by a 20-member strong SSRC team have been deployed alongside resident medical staff at Maridi Hospital, supported by the NGO Action Africa Help.

“It’s tragic! People’s pain is unimaginable. The explosion ripped through an entire community within minutes,” said Alison Martin, SSRC’s Western Equatoria Branch Director. Within hours, the death toll rose steadily and many burn victims are in very critical condition. Community members, families and friends of victims rushed to the scene and worked alongside ICRC and SSRC staff and volunteers, running around the clock to ensure basic services were made available from triage to treatment, stabilising those who could be saved. Hospital burn kits were delivered on site to treat patients. These kits include intravenous (IV) fluids, painkillers, bandages and dressing material. Mattresses, blankets, mosquito nets and tarpaulins were also made available to provide a minimum level of comfort for the victims of the fire.

“Lack of medical staff was initially our biggest challenge in trying to attend rapidly to the pain and suffering of patients”, said Jan Wynands, the ICRC’s on-site surgeon. Victims of the fire fled in panic either to the bush or to Maridi Hospital, which had been almost abandoned and later looted following clashes in the town earlier this year. “Resources in Maridi are very stretched, and more patients keep coming to the hospital” said Wynand. In cooperation with the Ministry of Health, the SPLA and UNMISS (UN Mission in the Republic of South Sudan), 47 patients have been evacuated to Juba Teaching Hospital to make space for newly admitted cases. Additional ICRC and MSF medical staff arrived in Maridi to assist with the operation. Twenty SSRC volunteers were at Juba’s International Airport, ready to receive patients evacuated from Maridi. These volunteers are usually deployed in Juba Teaching Hospital and are trained in wound dressing.

By end of day Friday last week, 78 patients were treated and stabilised on site, 47 were evacuated and 11 sadly succumbed to their wounds. In support of local health authorities, the ICRC and SSRC will continue to provide lifesaving interventions, relief and care for victims of the Maridi fire.






Peter Louis

Peter Louis works as a freelance Videographer and Journalist in the Republic of South Sudan. He previously worked for Ebony TV, South Sudan Radio and South Sudan TV, Wau.


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