Police: 5 lives lost, 17 vehicles burnt in Delta petrol tanker fire

tanker fire

The scene of petrol tanker explosion at Ugbenu, Ethiope West LG of Delta state.

By Okafor Ofiebor

Five lives were lost while 17 vehicles of very make were consumed in the petrol tanker fire explosion at Ugbenu in Ethiope West Local Government Area (LGA) of Delta state on Sunday.

Police spokesperson in Delta, DSP Bright Edafe, disclosed this in a statement on Sunday in Warri.

According to him, the victims of the tanker fire explosion were mostly youths who were scooping fuel from the fallen tanker when it exploded.

He listed the 17 vehicles consumed in the inferno to include eight buses of different makes, two tankers, five trailers, two motorcycles, a Sienna space wagon and a ‘C’ Class Mercedes Benz car were also burnt.

Edafe added that the tanker, laden with petrol, was heading towards Benin City in the morning when the unfortunate incident happened.

“In the early hours of Oct. 1, 2023, at about 0200hrs, the Command recorded a tragic incident where a tanker, laden with petroleum product, being driven towards Benin on the Warri – Benin Road fell at Ugbenu Koko Junction.

“Its content spilt into the nearby swamp and the spillage attracted a couple of youths who took advantage of the incident and started scooping fuel into jerry cans and other containers.

“While they were at it, an explosion erupted and the fire from the explosion engulfed the whole area.

“The fire claimed the lives of five persons among the youths who had come to scoop fuel,” Edafe said.

Edafe said that the remains of the victims had been deposited at the Oghara General Hospital’s morgue in Ethiope West.

He added that police operatives attached to the Oghara division, in collaboration with the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) at Ethiope West, had mobilised to the scene to ensure the free flow of traffic.

Edafe said that the Commissioner of Police, Delta Command, Wale Abass, had expressed his sympathy to the families that lost their loved ones in the incident.

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“It is sad that we never learn from past occurrences, since this is not the first time such an incident has happened.

“Nonetheless, I appeal that Nigerians should do away with greed and avoid scenes where there is an occurrence of oil spillages.

“It poses a serious threat to their lives and the lives of others,” Edafe warned.

Meanwhile, Governor Sheriff Oborevwori of Delta, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Sir Festus Ahon, in Asaba, commiserated with the victims’ families on the sad incident.

Governor Oborevwori, who blamed the unfortunate incident on the poor state of federal roads, once again called on the Federal Government to expedite action in reconstructing failed portions of the road.

He said that citizens of the state and commuters encounter harrowing experiences navigating the road and called on the authorities to as a matter of utmost importance and urgency fix the road to avoid further incidents like this.

Governor Oborevwori also used the opportunity to caution the people against taking the risk of attempting to scoop fuel from a fallen tanker, adding that it was a time bomb waiting to explode.

He said: “In the early hours of today, we got information that an explosion occurred at Koko junction along the Warri-Benin expressway.

“On behalf of the government and people of Delta State, I commiserate with families of the victims who lost their lives to the inferno.

“This sad and unfortunate incident would have been avoided if the Federal Government had lived up to their responsibility of maintaining their roads.

“While I mourn the deceased, I use this medium to reiterate my earlier call on the Federal Government to save the lives of our people from these harrowing experiences.

“I also use this medium to advise our people to refrain from the dangerous act of scooping fuel from a fallen tanker because of the highly inflammable nature of the product”.

It would be recalled that a Petroleum tanker fell on bad spot on the Benin-Warri Federal road and spill it product. Residents within area of the accident were at scene scooping the product when the explosion occurred.

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