Church donations help survivors of Liberia tanker explosion

Late-December disaster in Totota kills 89, injures nearly 100 — including Church members

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is responding to help the community of Totota, Liberia, after a deadly and devastating tanker truck explosion.

On Dec. 26, 2023, a fuel truck crashed in Totota and then exploded, killing 89 people and burning nearly 100 more who were at the scene.

The Church has two congregations in the area — the Totota 1st and 2nd branches, which are part of the Monrovia Liberia Mission. No members of the Church were killed in the explosion, but one member subsequently died from injuries and two other members are recovering from their injuries, reported the Church’s Africa Newsroom.

The explosion site was only 300 yards from the local Church building and 150 yards from the missionaries’ apartment.

Shortly after the explosion, Monrovia Liberia Mission President Jeffrey K. Thomas met with the two branches.

“Virtually everyone in the town is affected by this tragedy. Nearly all community members had a family member burned or killed,” President Thomas said. 

The Church made several small, targeted donations of food and medical supplies in the first few days after the explosion. Then on Jan. 5, 2024, the Church provided a large shipment of medical supplies and food for the community, which is about 80 miles, or 130 km, from the capital, Monrovia.

These donations helped Church leaders meet critical needs of survivors and their families as well as help local hospitals treat victims.

Liberia health and Church leaders stand with boxes of donated food and medical supplies in Monrovia, Liberia.
Health and Church leaders stand with some of a shipment from the Church in Monrovia, Liberia, Jan. 5, 2024. The food and medical supplies were then driven to Totota, Liberia, to help survivors of a tanker explosion. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Liberia Minister of Health Wilhemina S. Jallah accepted the Jan. 5. shipment from the Church in Monrovia, before trucks then took the supplies to Totota.

“We are so grateful to your church for this timely donation, that it has come so quickly after the devastation in Totota is a great blessing for the community,” she said. “...We hope that others will follow your example and help relieve the suffering of these people.”

President Prince Sonpon Nyanforth of the Monrovia Liberia Bushrod Island Stake explained that the donations came from generous donations from Church members.

“The best way to show your thanks is to ensure that these donations are used for the purpose they were intended and that they may ease the suffering of those wounded,” said President Nyanforth.

Other Church humanitarian efforts in Liberia

In early December, the Church gave food to the Liberian Children’s Transit Home as part of the Light the World initiative in the Africa West Area.

Paynesville Liberia Stake President Togar W. Okai was in attendance and assisted with the donations on Dec. 9 in Paynesville. The large donation blessed 150 children at the facility.

Children and adults stand by stacked bags and boxes of food at a children’s home in Liberia.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints provides food to the Liberian Children’s Transit Home in Paynesville, Liberia, on Dec. 9, 2023, as part of the Light the World initiative. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Liberia is also one of 12 countries part of an initial launch of a child nutrition initiative from the Relief Society and local Church areas as reported in November 2023.

In the program, Latter-day Saint volunteers and health experts screen children for nutritional needs and teach mothers the importance of a proper diet. Ministering efforts also connect them to local resources and follow-up support and care.

In October 2023, the Church held a donation ceremony to mark the renovation of a children’s home in Tiene. The funding meant rewiring and updating electricity, fixing the roof and ceilings tiles, and construction of a new latrine and kitchen.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has had a formal presence in Liberia since 1987. reports the first stake of the Church was established in Monrovia in June 2000. Currently there are six stakes, 72 congregations, and over 21,000 members of the Church in Liberia.

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