At least 8 dead af­ter tanker blast in Nige­ria

The Borneo Post (Sabah) - - WORLD -

WARRI, Nige­ria: At least eight peo­ple were killed in Nige­ria when a petrol tanker veered off the road, caught fire and ex­ploded as peo­ple tried to re­cover fuel, the emer­gency ser­vices said on Satur­day.

The ve­hi­cle crashed in the Oduk­pani area of the south­east­ern state of Cross River, just north of the state cap­i­tal, Cal­abar, at about 5.00pm on Fri­day.

Lo­cal res­i­dents rushed to col­lect the leak­ing fuel be­fore it caught fire, trig­ger­ing the tanker blast.

The sec­tor com­man­der of the Fed­eral Road Safety Corps in Cross River, Chi­diebere Ben­jamin Nk­wonta, said: “We met eight charred bod­ies on ar­rival at the scene

“Fif­teen other peo­ple were se­verely burnt and in a lifethreat­en­ing sit­u­a­tion. They were taken to the hospi­tal be­fore we got there.

“I was also in­formed that out of the 15, some of them later died but I do not have the ex­act fig­ures of the num­ber that died.”

Nk­wonta, how­ever, dis­missed lo­cal re­ports that up to 60 peo­ple were killed as ‘grossly overex­ag­ger­ated’.

Fif­teen other peo­ple were se­verely burnt and in a lifethreat­en­ing sit­u­a­tion. They were taken to the hospi­tal be­fore we got there. I was also in­formed that out of the 15, some of them later died but I do not have the ex­act fig­ures of the num­ber that died.

Cross River state po­lice spokes­woman Irene Ugbo said ear­lier she could not con­firm the ex­act death toll but added: “The ca­su­al­ties are high.”

The blast could have been sparked by the clash­ing of steel con­tain­ers used to scoop up the petrol, she added.

One lo­cal res­i­dent, Ak­pan Imon, said at least 18 peo­ple were killed.

“I counted 18 bod­ies in­clud­ing women and chil­dren burnt be­yond recog­ni­tion,” he said.

“I be­lieve the ca­su­alty level could be more be­cause peo­ple from other neigh­bour­ing com­mu­ni­ties had thronged the scene.”

An­other lo­cal, Sun­day Ibor, said ‘over 20 bod­ies’ were taken to the lo­cal gov­ern­ment sec­re­tariat.

Petrol tanker and pipe­line blasts are com­mon in Nige­ria, where de­spite the coun­try’s multi-bil­lion­dol­lar oil and gas in­dus­try, most peo­ple live in poverty.

Fires and ex­plo­sions of­ten oc­cur as peo­ple try to siphon fuel from pipe­lines and also fol­low­ing ac­ci­dents in­volv­ing fuel tankers on badly main­tained roads.

In July 2012, at least 104 peo­ple were killed and some 50 oth­ers wounded as they tried to col­lect fuel from a petrol tanker af­ter an ac­ci­dent in the south­ern state of Rivers.

Most were sub­se­quent fire.

In June last year, at least nine peo­ple died in Nige­ria’s com­mer­cial cap­i­tal, La­gos, when a petrol tanker crashed, trig­ger­ing a wild­fire that gut­ted more than 50 ve­hi­cles. — AFP

Chi­diebere Ben­jamin Nk­wonta, sec­tor com­man­der of the Fed­eral Road Safety Corps in Cross River

killed in the

Ce­sare Bat­tisti

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