Seven persons have been confirmed dead following a tanker explosion in Oshigbudu, Agatu Local Government Area of Benue State.
The Executive Secretary of the Benue State Emergency Management Agency, Dr Emmanuel Shior confirmed this to Channels Television on Sunday in Makurdi, the state capital.
He said about 50 houses were destroyed from the information he got the local government chairman, adding that a detailed assessment would be carried out tomorrow when he visits the scene of the explosion.
Shior conveyed the condolences of the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom who he said, has directed for a comprehensive audit of the fire incident and report back.
He also commiserated with those who lost their loved ones and properties to the fire.
Earlier, the Commissioner for Youths and Sports and an indigene of the area, Ojotu Ojeme, had confirmed the incident via his Facebook post.
He also commiserated with the victims of the explosion, calling on the government at all levels and spirited individuals to help residents of the area.
“The fire inferno at Oshugbudu in Agatu local Government, my local government of origin today, 18-04-2021 which has claimed so many lives and destroyed properties yet to be quantified, is the Chief of all the calamities that have fallen us this year,” he said.
“As I pray God to comfort the good people of Agatu and most especially those directly involved, over the lost, I wish to call on Government at all levels and spirited individuals to come to our aids in order to drastically reduce the effect of the disaster on the people. Once again may God grant us the fortitude to bear the huge loss.”
This comes amid an amateur video sent by an eyewitness which showed many houses, shops and properties were also destroyed in the inferno.
Agatu local government area is some four hours drive from Makurdi, the Benue State capital and help from this axis is unlikely as the fire is believed to have gone out of control.
Many residents of the area called for help from relevant authorities to come to their rescue as the only fire station is in Otukpo Local Government Area, a one hour thirty minutes drive from the scene of the fire.
In the process, the storage tank was gutted by fire and melted the hose being used to off-load the content of the truck.
In a bid to prevent the inferno from causing more damage, the driver of the truck was said to have jumped into the vehicle and moved it to the road, away from the filling station where the tanker exploded moments later.
Witnesses said the fire started at about 6:45am while the firefighters were immediately contacted, and they arrived at the scene at about 7:23am.
No injury or death was recorded as a result of the incident.
The incident occurred in a border community with Lagos while the firefighters seen at the scene were officials of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA).
Officials of the Federal Fire Service were also said to have arrived at the scene of the incident shortly after the fire had been put out.
“The driver of the Diesel laden tanker was driving recklessly when it suddenly lost control and fell on its side with its content spilling on the road before it exploded,” he said.
“The driver, according to eyewitness account was the only occupant in the vehicle when the unfortunate incident happened and was burnt to ashes before rescue effort could reach him.”
According to him the make and registration number of the tanker could not be ascertained due to the level of explosion.
While appealing to vehicle drivers, especially tanker drivers to avoid reckless driving, excessive speed, and drunk driving, he advised them to have adequate rest before embarking on any journey in order to avoid accidents.
Residents of the Iju-Ishaga area of Lagos were on Thursday afternoon sent into a panic as a rancorous explosion rocked the neighborhood.
What started out as a wet and rather calm day quickly turned into a frenzy at about 3:30 pm when a loaded gas tanker exploded around the Iju Hill axis of Ajuwon road.
Some witnesses say at least one person died in the blast that comes at a moment when the nation is trying to come to terms with a similar carnage that left almost 30 including students, dead in Lokoja.
The incident in Lagos left 16 persons critically injured, while scores of buildings and many cars were destroyed, some beyond repair.
A Damaged Tanker?
Speaking to Channels Television on Thursday at the site of the explosion, LASEMA’s Director of Operations, Engr Olatunde Akinsanya said the 16 injured persons were taken to the Iju Water Works clinic.
Akinsanya revealed that the ill-fated 30 ton LPG tanker which was being operated by Manna Gas Ltd, was supposed to offload its content at a gas station, but the station’s owner reportedly refused to allow him because a seal had been broken, indicating that the content had been tampered with.
Enraged by the refusal of the station manager to offload the content in his tanker, the driver moved out of the premises.
A few meters away from the gas station, the front tire of the tanker burst and the gearbox compartment struck the ground causing a spark that led to an explosion when it came in contact with gas that was leaking from the tanker.
The vehicle ended in a ditch, where a second explosion erupted.
Eyewitnesses told Channels Television that the second explosion sent the tanker flying and destroying buildings in its path, including a church.
The impact of the explosion spread about 300 radii from the scene of the incident, the LASEMA official said.
It was not yet clear at the time of reporting this story whether the driver of the tanker was still alive as he seemed to have sustained third-degree burns.
“I would have died with my children”
Narrating her close shave with death, Mrs. Maduka Lovelyn, a fruit seller said she had just returned from the market and was arranging her wares when the first blast erupted.
Mrs. Maduka and her kids were tending to customers when they saw a thick cloud of smoke rising a few meters from where her stall is situated.
The perturbed mother said she and her children were lucky to have escaped because they fled at the first cry of “fire! fire!” by some other residents who were closer to the blast spot.
“We were scared as we saw the smoke, it was too much,” Mrs. Maduka stressed as she revealed how it took a race through marsh and mud to get her family to safety.
Increasing casualty figures
Earlier in the day, the Lagos State Government had put the casualty figure at 16, however, a post-disaster assessment late on Thursday revealed that the total number of casualties is 30, consisting of 10 adult females and 20 adult males.
LASEMA figures suggest that a total of 23 buildings were destroyed in the blast, while 15 vehicles were left with varying degrees of dents.
Prominent among the buildings destroyed are the X and Y Event Center and the Idera Oluwa Plank Market where 15 shanty shops were engulfed.
A tragedy, one too many
The fires stirred by the explosion have been extinguished and damping down has being carried out, but many questions trailing this incident are yet to be answered.
One such question is what should be done or is being done to ensure that there is no repeat of such an ugly incident, as Nigerians have witnessed such a horror too many times, with some happening in quick successions.
Thursday’s explosion comes just a few hours after 23 persons were killed following a tanker explosion at the Felele axis of Lokoja the Kogi State capital.
The accident occurred after a truck laden with Premium Motor Spirit lost control following a brake failure and rammed into five other oncoming vehicles.
Eyewitnesses say over 50 people may have been killed in the blaze, including some residents who were waiting to board commercial vehicles by the roadside.
Reacting to the explosion, the Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, expressed shock and sorrow.
“It is very sad to learn of the tragic loss of lives, many vehicles, property and other valuables in the petrol tanker fire,” he said.
Two-day mourning was declared in honour of the victims of the tanker explosion, but the masses ask for more to be done.
As with several incidents of this nature, many become emotional, sometimes tempers run wild and people blame the government.
Often, promises are made with assurances that the root causes of these accidents will be looked into, and the people can only hope that in no distant time, words will be matched with action, to ensure that such disasters are averted.
Two people have lost their lives in Azare town in Bauchi state as a result of a petrol tanker explosion.
Eyewitnesses say the tanker had offloaded its content and was on its way out of the town when an electric cable fell on it resulting in the explosion which claimed 2 lives.
Confirming the incident to Channels Television, the Bauchi state police public relations officer Ahmad Wakil says 2 other persons including the tanker driver sustained injuries although the driver’s injury was mild and has since been discharged from the hospital.
According to the Federal Road Safety Corps, the incident was caused by a mechanical fault leading to the ill-fated trailer skidding off the road and bursting into flames.
The state governor Dapo Abiodun who went to assess the scene of the incident commiserated with families of the victims and promised to offset the medical bills of those who sustained injuries from the inferno.