Nigeria explosion: Dozens dead, fear of more lives loss
Published: 10:58 PM, 12 January 2019 Updated: 11:06 PM, 12 January 2019
Daily Bangladesh Desk
Police confirm at least 12 deaths but some residents put death toll closer to 60 people. Nigerian police on Saturday said many people were feared dead after a petrol tanker veered off the road, caught fire and exploded as people tried to recover fuel.
Many people have been killed after an overturned oil tanker exploded in Nigeria while dozens of people were scooping up the leaking fuel, police and witnesses said on Saturday.
Hundreds of people have died in similar accidents in recent years in Nigeria, Africa's largest oil producer, as impoverished people risk their lives to collect fuel leaking from pipelines or trucks.
She said the blast occurred on Friday evening in Odukpani in Cross River state in the south-east.
However, some residents put the death toll closer to 60.
"The police only recovered a few corpses, many of the other dead were burnt to ashes," witness Richard Johnson told AP.
He said about 60 people were inside a pit scooping fuel when the explosion occurred. "It is not likely that anyone inside the pit survived as there was a lot of fuel in the pit," Mr Johnson said.
"We have recovered 12 corpses and taken 22 persons with serious burns to hospital," police spokesperson Irene Ugbo told Associated Press.
The vehicle crashed in the Odukpani area of the southeastern state of Cross River, just north of the state capital, Calabar, at about 5pm (1600 GMT) on Friday.
Local residents rushed to collect the leaking fuel when it caught fire, triggering the blast.
Cross River state police spokeswoman Irene Ugbo said the blast could have been sparked by the clashing of steel containers used to scoop up the petrol.
“I can’t confirm the exact number of casualties,” she said, adding: “The casualties are high.”
The injured were taken to the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital for treatment to varying degrees of burns.
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 neighboring 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-billion-dollar 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 road.
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 killed in the subsequent fire.
In June last year; at least nine people died in Nigeria’s commercial capital, Lagos, when a petrol tanker had been crashed, triggering a wildfire that gutted more than 50 vehicles.
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