Dozens feared dead in Nigeria oil tanker fire

A picture taken on September 11, 2018 shows burnt vehicles and motorcycle along the road away from the filling station where nine people were killed and dozens injured following an explosion on September 10, 2018 in Lafia, Nasarawa in central Nigeria. - Nine people were killed and dozens more injured on September 10, 2018, some of them critically, in an explosion and fire at a gas filling station in central Nigeria, the state governor said today. The accident happened on September 10, 2018 in Lafia, the capital of Nasarawa state, 190 kilometres (120 miles) by road east of Abuja. (Photo by ERIC ISAAC / AFP) (Photo credit should read ERIC ISAAC/AFP/Getty Images)
Nigeria Tank explosion. Photo  ERIC ISAAC/AFP/Getty Images

The blast occurred on Friday evening in Odukpani in Cross River state in Nigeria’s southeast.

“The number of victims is high,” but “I can’t confirm the exact number,” said Cross River State Police spokeswoman Irene Ugbo.

One resident, Akpan Imon, said that at least 18 people died. “I counted 18 bodies, including those of burned women and children who were burnt beyond recognition,” he said.

“I think the toll could be higher because people from neighboring communities flocked to the scene of the accident,” he added.

According to another resident, Sunday Ibor, “more than 20 bodies” were removed”.

The wounded were evacuated to the University of Calabar hospital for burns of varying degrees.

Tanker truck and pipeline explosions are frequent in Nigeria, where the majority of the population lives in poverty despite the fact that the country is the continent’s largest oil producer, with nearly 2 million barrels a day.

Fires and explosions often occur when people try to siphon oil from pipelines or when tankers overturn on the country’s poorly maintained roads.

It was not immediately clear what caused the truck to overturn.

About a year ago, more than 30 residents in the same locality were burned to death while scooping fuel from an oil tanker involved in an accident.

Nigeria’s worst such accident occurred in 1998, when more than 1,000 people died as the leaking oil pipeline from which they were scooping fuel exploded in the town of Jesse.