The blast occurred late Monday in the city of Cap-Haitien, Prime Minister Ariel Henry said, adding that he was devastated.
“Three days of national mourning will be decreed throughout the territory, in memory of the victims of this tragedy that the entire Haitian nation is grieving,” he said on Twitter.
Henry said his administration was deploying field hospitals to the area to help those affected.
Dozens of bodies lay on the street hours after the explosion as a small crowd stood around them.
No further details were immediately available. Police didn’t immediately return calls requesting information.
Patrick Almonor, deputy mayor of Cap-Haitien, told The Associated Press that at least 53 deaths and more than 100 injured have been reported following the explosion that burned around 20 homes near the site. He said he expects the number of deaths to keep rising because people who died in their homes have not yet been counted.
“It’s horrible what happened,” he said. “We lost so many lives.”
Almonor said a local hospital is in dire need of more nurses, doctors, and basic medical supplies to help those injured.
“We are overwhelmed,” a person identified as Dr. Calhil Turenne told Le Nouvelliste newspaper.
Dave Larose, a civil engineer who works in Cap-Haitien, told The Associated Press that he was driving when he saw ambulances and a crowd of people gathered along a road around 1 a.m.
He said he observed how some people were using buckets to scoop up gasoline from the truck and the street to take back to their house. The explosion occurred as Haiti struggles with a severe shortage of fuel and spiraling gas prices.
“It’s terrible what our country has to go through,” Larose said.
Former Prime Minister Claude Joseph also mourned the victims, and he said on Twitter, “I share the pain and sorrow of all the people.”
By Evens Sanon