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Gory details of Ore petrol tanker explosion: How pregnant woman, three children were caught in inferno


Gory details of Ore petrol tanker explosion: How pregnant woman, three children were caught in inferno

Detail have emerged on the petrol tanker explosion that occurred on Sunday night in Ore, in Odigbo Local Government Area of Ondo State, in which about 20 people were reportedly burnt to death.

Several other people were said to have been injured in the inferno, just as the state police command confirmed that eight bodies were recovered from the scene of the incident.

One of the survivors of the explosion, Awalu Saliu, on Monday, recounted his ordeals and how he narrowly escaped death.

Saliu, a commercial motorcyclist, said the tanker driver lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a ditch while its contents spilt into a nearby stream.
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He said residents invaded the scene with kegs and buckets to scoop fuel, adding that he also parked his motorcycle and joined them to scoop the fuel.

However, Saliu said there was a loud explosion some 200 metres away from the scene of the incident, adding that people were too busy to pay attention to the explosion until the fire engulfed them.

Saliu, who hails from Sokoto, said: “I am an okada rider. The tanker fell at about 4:30pm and I joined other people to rush to the scene where I met many people scooping fuel. I joined them after the rain stopped.

“I parked my motorcycle and came down, and after some time, we heard a loud explosion and the fire moved through the water. There was another loud explosion, and before we knew what was happening, the whole place was in flames.

“We ran away from the tanker. We were over 100 scooping the fuel directly from the tanker. I also joined them to run away.  Some people who were trying to run away with their scooped fuel were caught by the fire.

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“Many more people would have died if the fire had started from the tanker, but it started within the residential area where a woman was said to be cooking. The woman died instantly.”

•Burnt trees around the stream where the incident occurred.

Another resident of the area, Tijani Diekola, said he was not around when the incident occurred but had to rush to the scene to look for one of his nephews who was said to be missing.

Diekola said: “I got here few minutes after the explosion and met some burnt corpses on the ground, but the situation was so tense and nobody could get near the place.

“It was early this morning [Monday] that some relatives of the victims were able to get the corpses of the affected people. None of them survived the incident as most of them were burnt beyond recognition.

“This morning I saw about 10 burnt bodies, including my nephew and a pregnant woman, while those around the tanker could not be recognised. They were packed inside a sack by officials of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) this morning.

“The tanker driver lost control of the vehicle and crashed into the ditch at about 4:30pm. The people started scooping fuel until the incident happened at about 6:00p.m.”

Explaining how the incident occurred, Diekola said: “What actually happened was that the fuel started spilling into a stream in the area, while the residents continued to scoop it with buckets and kegs.



“Unfortunately, a woman was cooking in her kitchen when the inflammable product on the water caught fire, burning the woman to death, while the fire travelled back to the tanker.

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“A pregnant woman crossing the stream with three other minors was caught in the river, and all were burnt beyond recognition with the cash she was holding.

“No one could move to rescue them because of the intensity of the fire. Some other people who were close to the tanker were also badly affected. Their remains were packed this morning.”

One other resident who identified herself as Mrs Bamidele lamented the death of a nine-year-old boy, Azeez, who she said was trampled to death during the melee that followed the explosion.

According to her, the young boy had just finished eating when the explosion occurred and the residents were scampering for safety when he was trampled to death.

“The mother has been sedated and we await the arrival of the father who left for his office in Akure on Sunday afternoon. He had been briefed and the boy will be buried today.

“Some of the people were burnt beyond recognition and their relatives invaded here this morning to pack their remains. The death toll as of this morning should be over 20, while some people who made it out of the fire have been confirmed dead this morning. It was a horrible scene,” she said.

Attempts to speak with some of the survivors at the General Hospital in Sabo, Ore, were not successful as health officials prevented relatives and victims from speaking with the Nigerian Tribune.

One of the officials explained that the chief medical director of the hospital was out of the office for an official engagement and urged the Nigerian Tribune to return the following day.

Meanwhile, the state police command has attributed the explosion to the illicit activities of some members of the public who were siphoning fuel from the fallen petroleum tanker at Showboy area of Ore.

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The state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Funmi Odunlami, who stated this while speaking with the Nigerian Tribune, confirmed that eight persons lost their lives in the incident, adding that their remains had been deposited at the hospital.

According to her, preliminary investigation revealed that the fire incident was as a result of petrol tanker loaded with 33,000 litres of PMS that lost control and swerved off the road to a nearby ditch while the product spilled into a nearby stream.

Mourning the death of the victims, the Ondo State government, in a statement signed by the Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mrs Bamidele Ademola-Olateju, said: “With deep regrets and sadness, we mourn the tragic death of our fellow citizens in an explosion from a fuel-laden tanker in Ore, in Odigbo Local Government Area.

“The government and people of the state are devastated by this unfortunate tragedy, which is not only gripping, but mind-numbing. It is a tragedy that should not have occurred. Our hearts go out to the victims of the fuel tanker explosion and their families.

“This is a most horrendous way to die. We are shocked and traumatised as we express the depth of our grief for the victims of the explosion.

“The state will reach out to the victims’ families. Whatever circumstances that led to this unfortunate incident must be discouraged.

“This is one tragedy too many and it is our joint responsibility to ensure this does not happen again. May God grant repose to the souls of the departed and succour to their families.”

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