Metro  

Woman, baby burnt to death, buildings razed in Onitsha tanker explosion

Ladipo boys scoop fuel after diesel-laden tanker falls into ditch

A woman and her baby were burnt to death while more than 40 buildings were razed in a tanker explosion at Upper Iweka area of Onitsha, Anambra State. Over 500 lock-up shops were also gutted by the fire along with the Iweka street market leading to Ochanja and Menax markets.

The explosion was started when a tanker laden with Premium Motor Spirit, otherwise known as petrol, descending from the Zik’s roundabout end of Onitsha-Enugu expressway, lost control at Toronto Hospital and veered off the service lane. The tanker’s head fell off and went up in flames after spilling its content within the area.

It was gathered that the woman carrying her baby reportedly tried to jump out of her shop, but mistakenly stepped on a slippery object and fell into the gutter raging with fire. She could not be rescued as the inferno covered the entire area. According to an eyewitness, the fire started at about 10:00 a.m. and there was no presence of fire servicemen at the scene.

“You can see people looking helplessly as their houses, shops, and goods are burning. If not for the courage of some youths, some elderly persons and children trapped in some highrise buildings along Iweka road would have perished in the fire as smoke almost suffocated them before they were rescued,” he said.

The was, however, a mild drama when two toilet drilling tankers on their way to dumpsites were forced by angry youths in the area to use the feces, mixed with water, to put off the fire.

The Commissioner of Police, John Abang, who later visited the scene for an on-the-spot assessment, appealed to the residents to remain calm. Efforts were still ongoing to prevent the fire from escalating as at the time of filing the report.

Meanwhile, in Lagos, 24 hours after some people scooped fuel from a tanker spilling its content at Mile 2, Apapa, heightening fears of an explosion, a similar incident occurred yesterday at Toyota bus-stop, Oshodi-Apapa expressway when a diesel-laden tanker with registration number FKJ568XC fell at the same spot where two commercial buses collided against each other opposite Rutam House, head office of The Guardian newspaper.

The accident occurred at about 10:00 a.m. when the truck experienced brake failure. Immediately the truck veered off into the ditch, some boys from the Ladipo auto spare-parts market rushed to the scene with jerry-cans and buckets to scoop fuel from the tanker. But as soon as a forklift arrived, they all disappeared with the scooped product.

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