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Sierra Leone Explosion Emergency Response

On the 5th of November an explosion outside a petrol station near Freetown, Sierra Leone, killed 144 people.


On the 5th of November a massive explosion took place when a fuel tanker collided with another vehicle in Wellington, a suburb of Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone. The incident occurred when the tanker was entering a nearby fuel station. The explosion happened when people tried to collect the fuel, the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) said. The death toll climbed to 144 with many victims still hospitalized as doctors, nurses and volunteers are trying to save lives.
However, Sierra Leone’s healthcare lacks special treating stations for burnt casualties and therefore hospital staff quickly ran out of essential equipment needed for appropriate treatment of the victims. Clinicians were lacking crucial medications to treat acute pain; antibiotics or even medical gloves were unavailable. This poses a huge challenge and when the NDMA and the city council reached out to us with a list of urgently needed items,  we knew that rapid action was vital.

Our Project

Working closely together with the German Disaster Agency, the NDMA provided us with a list of urgently required items and medications. There were various challenges we were facing to provide the goods: Firstly we reached out to German hospitals and pharmacies asking them which supplies they are willing and able to contribute. A big question here was which medications and  goods we are legally allowed to use for the transport to SL, as there are many restrictions regarding the im- and export of  certain  medications.
This challenge, the supply of the items, was tackled immediately and after evaluating our options it was clear that our partnership with Brussels Airlines would be of great use as they were showing their great commitment by granting us a minimum of 20 boxes (ca. 500kg) they could fly to Freetown for free. Since those flights were to depart from Brussels we had to figure out a way to transport the donations. Having contacted people across Germany each transport had to be dealt with uniquely but thanks to the excellent work of our logistics team, who were checking every potential option to make it happen, they always took place as fast as possible.

Our Impact

The response has been tremendous. After reaching out to different hospitals and pharmacies we were able to secure several different antibiotics, medical tools and other essential equipment. Since the first donations came from cities across Germany, our  logistics team managed to organize the transport of boxes weighing over 200kg, full of life-saving articles to Brussels and did so in further progress with funds from Munich, Bad Kreuznach, Stuttgart, Dortmund and Berlin, all arriving in time to make the flight to Freetown. Since we were in close touch with the head doctors of the main hospitals in Freetown, we together developed a list of the top 10 most urgently needed items and medicines  and were able to gather them up into the first boxes that were being sent. 
After six days of hard work, hundreds of phone calls/mails, and more than 30 people  working on the project, the first flight to Freetown, containing boxes with 200kg of crucial items, took off. Two days later, the second plane headed towards SL, containing the same amount of boxes full of items to help instantly.

Next Steps

Since the circumstances are still disastrous and ongoing, we as yet are trying to assemble as many goods as possible as they are so urgently needed. Closely working together with the NDMA, the city council and head doctors, we always know what is most needed. A German NGO called APOTHEKER HELFEN e.V. have granted us 8000€ which we will put to use for further action. By cooperating with several pharmaceutical companies, hospitals and other organisations such as Brussels Airlines, the next flight from Brussels is already ahead of us. It is scheduled to leave on Wednesday, the 17th of November.