A petrol tanker explosion in Koko, Warri North local government area of Delta State has claimed several lives estimated to be 20.
The incident happened yesterday morning when residents of the area rushed to the scene to scoop for fuel from the burning vehicle.
Unofficial sources put the death toll at 20 with several others affected with severe degrees of burnt.
But the state police command’s spokesperson, Bright Edafe said the fire claimed five lives amongst the youths who had come to scoop the spilled fuel.
Edafe said the fire affected several properties, including the fallen tanker, eight buses of different makes, two tankers, five trailers, two motorcycles, one Siena Space bus and one ‘C’ Class Mercedes Benz car.
A resident in the area who only gave his name as Salvation, said “the explosion occurred when the fuel was ignited by a spark from a phone held by one of the residents who was scooping fuel that spilled from a tanker.
A trader in the area alleged that over 20 bodies were burnt in the inferno, including three children and a pregnant woman.
He said, “I was in my shop when I heard the tanker fell. People were scooping fuel from it when the fire started after a spark from a phone. Three children died and we have counted over 20 bodies. A pregnant woman who wanted to buy the fuel also died.
“Security men tried to prevent them but the youths were not bothered because it is their community. They came in their numbers carrying all sorts of containers.
“You can see dead bodies on the ground, some of them ran into the forest, As I speak to you, some dead bodies have been removed,” he said.
Meanwhile, Governor Sheriff Oborevwori has sent his condolences to the families of victims who got burnt.
The governor blamed the unfortunate incident on the poor state of federal roads and once again called on the federal government to expedite action in reconstructing failed portions of the road.
He also cautioned 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.
In a statement by his chief press secretary, Sir Festus Ahon, in Asaba, the governor commiserated with the victims’ families on the sad incident.
He disclosed that the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), led by the commissioner for special duties, Mr Ejiro Terry was already at the scene to provide help and support for the victims.