Blast forces evacuation of downtown Apia

  • 04/04/2016
The public was being urged to stay away (Youtube)
The public was being urged to stay away (Youtube)

One person has died in a fuel tank explosion at a wharf in Apia, Samoa today.

The capital's downtown was forced to evacuated the area at 10am (local time), after the explosion triggered a fire which was responded to within minutes by emergency services. Schools and nearby businesses were closed.

The man who died was one of two Petroleum Products and Supplies Ltd (PPS) employees who were working on the fuel storage tank at the time of the explosion. The second employee was treated in hospital and discharged a few hours later.

"It is with sadness that PPS confirms that one of two employees working on the storage tank at the time of the explosion has died as a result of this regrettable incident," PPS said in a statement.

The concern of emergency crews was that two fuel tanks adjacent to the burning tank could catch alight and explode. While firefighters battled, another team drained some fuel from the two tanks to reduce the risk of them catching alight.

Samoa's Disaster Management Office has published a statement on Facebook telling the public to stay away from the Matautu area.

"Current situation is unstable and unsafe for the travelling public," it read.

Labour MPs Louisa Wall, Poto Williams and National's Joanne Hayes are currently in Apia for the Pacific Women's Parliamentary Partnerships Forum.

Newshub was told they didn't hear the explosion but could see the fire from where they were. They were evacuated to the High Commissioner's residence for a short period but have now returned to their duties -- attending parliament for an opening ceremony as part of the Pacific Women's Parliamentary Partnerships Forum.

A police investigation has been launch to determine the cause of the fire.