95 dead after petrol tanker catches fire in Nigeria
At least 95 people burned to death on Thursday after a petrol tanker was involved in a road accident and burst into flames in the oil-rich Niger Delta region of southern Nigeria, dpa reported accotding to the state-run media.
After the crash, the tanker began to leak fuel, which many impoverished residents of the coastal area then began to collect using pans. When the tanker exploded into flames, dozens of people were crowded around the vehicle.
"People were scooping fuel from the tanker when it exploded," Kayode Olagunju, from the Federal Road Safety Commission, was quoted as saying. Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan expressed remorse over the loss of lives while ordering immediate assistance for survivors.
"President Jonathan is particularly distraught by the fact that, once again, so many Nigerian lives have been lost in an avoidable fuel fire disaster," spokesman Ruben Abati said.
"The president has directed federal relief and health agencies to do everything possible to ensure that all those who survived the explosion with burns and injuries receive prompt and effective medical attention," Abati added.
It was still unclear how the fuel caught fire near Okobe village. Two people died in hospital, while 93 were declared dead at the scene.
Olagunju said four vehicles were involved in the crash and many more were burnt in the explosion. Witnesses were quoted as saying that mass funerals were already being planned for the afternoon.
At least 20 people were taken to hospital for treatment after the accident, some in serious condition.
Environmentalists have long complained about pollution and safety in the Niger Delta, where residents often live in dire poverty while oil companies generate massive profits.