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Exploding Tanker Kills Up To 80 People

Up to 80 people are reported to have been burned alive when a petrol tanker exploded on a Nigerian road, setting fire to several vehicles including a school bus. Oil tanker spills, such as this

PTI [ Updated: October 11, 2009 5:11 IST ]
exploding tanker kills up to 80 people
exploding tanker kills up to 80 people

Up to 80 people are reported to have been burned alive when a petrol tanker exploded on a Nigerian road, setting fire to several vehicles including a school bus.

Oil tanker spills, such as this from April last year, are common on Nigeria's poor roads

At least five minibuses packed with up to 18 passengers each and two cars were incinerated by the fireball.

One of the buses engulfed by flames was a school bus full of children, according to another source.

The tanker flipped and spilt fuel over the road between Onitsha and Enugu in the south of the country when it hit a pothole around midday on Friday.

The fire is said to have started after a policeman at a nearby checkpoint began shooting into the air to stop people scooping up fuel from around the overturned truck.

“Immediately the policeman shot into the air, the tanker burst into flame that engulfed other vehicles that were close by and equally trapped some of the people that were gathered around the scene who were not fast enough to escape,” a source told local newspapers.

Another anonymous onlooker said: “We were standing nearby and could do nothing while these little children were burnt to ashes due to the level of heat that was coming from the fire.”

State road safety director Ben Ekenna admitted local roads were in a bad state, commenting: "If something isn't done quickly, tragedies like this will happen again."

Accidents on Nigeria's poorly-maintained inter-city roads are common and newspapers are filled with pictures of overturned trucks, destroyed roads and huge potholes.

Last June a road safety expert said Nigeria needs to treat the carnage on its roads as a national emergency.

In addition, the oil-rich country often has domestic fuel shortages, making tanker spills dangerously attractive to poor Nigerians who rush to collect the leaking petrol.

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