ABUJA - More than 100 people were burnt to death, including women and children, in an oil tanker fire in southern Nigeria on Thursday, July 12, in the latest catastrophe in Africa's most populous African country.
"More than 100 people were killed in the inferno from the petrol tanker, while around 50 with severe burns have been hospitalized," Ibim Semenitari, the information commissioner in Nigeria's southern Rivers state, told Agence France-Presse (AFP).
The carnage occurred when a gasoline tanker swerved while trying to avoid a collision on the east-west road in Nigeria's oil-producing Niger Delta.
Hundreds of people crowded around the crashed tanker to collect the spilling fuel when it caught fire.
"Then there was an explosion followed by fire," said Kayode Olagunju, sector commander of the Federal Road Safety Commission in the southern Rivers state told AFP.
"Ninety-three were burned to death on the spot. Two died later in the hospital (and) 18 people were seriously injured."
Most of those killed were operators of motorcycle taxi, known locally as "Okada", who raced to fill up their tanks after learning of the crash.
Olagunju said at least 34 motorcycles were destroyed in the blaze.
The area had been cordoned off by security forces and a large number of rescue officials were on the ground.
Rescue workers from the police, road safety, fire service, civil defense and NEMA were at the scene to evacuate victims and control the traffic," the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said in a statement.
Motorcycle taxi driver Kingsley Jafure recalled when the fire broke out, killing scores of people.
"At about 7:30 while I was inside trying to decide whether to go (scoop fuel) or not. That is when I saw that the tanker exploded," Jafure told AFP.
Crashes are common on Nigeria's pot-holed and poorly maintained roads.
The east-west road, which runs across the oil-producing region, has been scheduled for development for almost a decade and money is allocated for it in the budget each year.
In March, a petrol tanker caught fire after skidding off the road in southern Port Harcourt, killing six people and injuring several others.
While in April last year, a fuel tanker overturned at an army checkpoint in central Nigeria, sparking an inferno in which some 50 people were killed.
Nigeria, Africa's biggest oil producer, is plagued by corruption and inefficiency.Most years only about half budgeted programs are implemented.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net