LAGOS: Around 69 people were burnt to death in southeast Nigeria after a petrol tanker lost control, rammed into a busy bus station and burst into flames, the Red Cross and police said on Monday.
A senior Red Cross official in the Nigerian capital Abuja said the agency’s staff responded to the disaster immediately, navigating charred debris in an effort to care for the victims.
The official said staff on the ground in Onitsha had confirmed 69 deaths so far but several others were being treated for severe burns and the toll may rise.
It was not immediately clear what caused the lorry’s driver to lose control but Ezeh said there was no sign of foul play.
Roughly a dozen buses and several motorcycles were also destroyed by the fire, the police spokesman added.
Such accidents are common in Nigeria, where many major roads are riddled with potholes and lorries are often ageing and poorly maintained.
Drivers frequently face pressure from superiors to take few breaks on long-haul journeys, meaning people driving petrol-laden trucks are sometimes short on sleep.
Accidents involving petrol tankers have proved extremely deadly in the past as locals have flocked to the scene of accidents to scoop spilt fuel.
More than 100 people were burnt to death in July 2012 in southern Rivers state after a petrol tanker tipped over and spilled fuel on the roadside.
As crowds rushed with jerry cans to collect the fuel, the pool caught fire, engulfing scores of people in a deadly blaze.
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