A tanker truck exploded in northern Benin, killing at least 35 people who were siphoning gasoline, officials said Thursday.

The truck overturned near Benin's northern border with Burkina Faso on Wednesday, then ignited in the evening when a group of local people converged to siphon off its cargo, said Frederic Lankouande, a Burkina border transport official.

He said the tanker caught fire from lanterns the villagers were carrying.

CountryWatch: Benin

"There are between 35 and 40 dead," said Lankouande, who visited the site. He said many were also injured, but did not give an exact number.

The explosion occurred in Porga, about 300 miles north of Benin's commercial hub of Cotonou.

Benin's is among the world's poorest countries, ranked near the bottom of the U.N. quality-of-life index — 161st out of 177 nations.

Earlier this month in neighboring Nigeria, 200 impoverished villagers scavenging for free fuel were killed when gas gushing from a ruptured pipeline exploded.