Woman, baby die, buildings razed in Onitsha tanker explosion

By AdvocateNews on 17/10/2019

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A woman and her baby were confirmed dead while no fewer than 40 houses including four-storey buildings were razed when a tanker conveying petrol exploded at Upper Iweka area of Onitsha, Anambra state on Wednesday.

Over 500 lock- up shops were also gutted by the fire along the Iweka street market leading to Ochanja and Menax market.

The incident was said to have started when a tanker laden with Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, otherwise known as petrol, descending from the Zik’s roundabout end of Onitsha -Enugu expressway, lost control around Toronto Hospital and veered off the service lane.

The tanker’s head reportedly fell off and went up in flames after spilling its content within the area.

Over 30 private and government owned transport companies, including Luxury bus operators along the area were lucky to have escaped being caught by the fire.

It was gathered that the woman carrying her baby reportedly tried to jump out of her shop, but mistakenly stepped on slippery object and fell into the gutter raging with fire.

Luck was not on her side however as she could not be rescued following the inferno that covered the entire area.

Residents, including old men, women and children in most of the building were trapped as youths had to climb up to three to four- storey buildings to rescue them before the fire, which was fast moving from one building to another caught up with them.

An eye witness said the inferno started at about 10 am, regretting there was no presence of fire service men at the scene, including the ones in the markets in Onitsha and Local Government.

“You can see people looking helplessly as their houses, shops, goods and flats were burnt down. If not for the courage of some youths, some elderly men and women including children trapped in over ten buildings ranging from two to four storey buildings along Iweka road would have perished in the fire as smokes almost suffocated them before they were rescued,” he said.

There was however a mild drama when operators of  two toilet drilling tankers on their way to dumpsites were forced by angry youths in the area to use the faeces mixed with water to put out the fire.

The Police Command confirmed the death of the woman and her child in the Onitsha tanker inferno.

The spokesperson, Haruna Mohammed, said the woman and her child were burnt beyond recognition, adding that their remains had been deposited in a nearby morgue.

The statement reads in part,” Today (Wednesday) at about a trailer loaded with petroleum product lost control at upper iweka, on the Enugu-Onitsha Expressway, Onitsha and crashed inside a pavement in between the expressway.

“As a result, the fire spilled over through the gutter and affected many shops and houses.

“The Commissioner of Police John Abang visited the scene for on the spot assessment and appealed to the residents to remain calm.

“Fire Service department was equally contacted.

“A yet- to- be identified woman and her baby caught up by the inferno and burnt beyond recognition were rushed to Toronto hospital but certified dead by a medical doctor while receiving treatment.”

Mohammed said a police patrol teams had cordoned off the area to prevent hoodlums from taking advantage of the situation to loot while effort was ongoing to put off the fire.

He said the command was investigating the case to ascertain circumstances surrounding the incident.

Posted 17/10/2019 04:12:15 AM


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