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Dozens injured trying to scoop up fuel in Nigerian oil tanker blast

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
July 13th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

A gasoline tanker crashed on a road near Nigeria's oil producing Niger Delta and burst into flames. At least 100 people have been killed, and several people have been injured.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "At least 100 people have been killed and at least 18 people were injured and taken to hospital," Al Jazeera's Mohammed Adow. The death toll is expected to rise.

Hundreds of people amassed as soldiers and emergency workers lifted bodies into ambulances and police trucks. The fuel tanker was rendered into a pile of smoldering ash, twisted metal and melting tires.

"Early this morning a tanker loaded with petrol fell in Okogbe and people trooped to the scene obviously to scoop the spilled fuel and suddenly there was fire resulting in casualties," Police Spokesman Ben Ugwuegbulam said.

The fuel tanker attempted to avoid a head-on collision with buses when it swerved into a ditch, Ugwuegbulam said. It then overturned in the bushes, leaving its fuel to spill.

Adedoyin Adeyinka, head of the Road and Federal Safety, said that the accident prompted people to siphon fuel.

"And before we got here, the tanker behind me fell down and people came out to scoop fuel and I want to use this medium to appeal to Nigerians that nothing is free and it is dangerous for people to come close to this type of accident or to move closer to vehicle," he said.

Troops who reached the crash site before the fire broke out told people to clear off. Many ignored the warning, an official from the National Emergency Management Agency said.

Forces from the military's Joint Task Force "got to the scene before us. They warned people to leave the scene to avoid disaster. But many of them were busy scooping fuel. They disobeyed," Emenike Umesi from NEMA explained.

Some of the victims taken to the hospital were burned beyond recognition, while others appeared treatable.

The state's information commissioner Ibim Semenitari said that the fire had been put out but emergency services were still trying "to clear the carnage."

Nigeria has many pot-holed and poorly maintained roads. In Nigeria, where most people live on less than $2 a day the chance to collect spilling petrol is too much of a temptation, despite the high risk of fires.

The east-west road, which runs across the oil-producing region, has been scheduled for development for almost a decade and money is allocated for it in the budget each year.

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