An unspecified number of people have feared dead on Sunday in the Oshigbudu community in the Agatu Local Government Area of Benue State, when a tanker conveying petroleum products fell and exploded.
Sources in the area told the Nigerian Tribune on the phone that the tanker fully loaded with petroleum products fell at the Oshigbudu-Obagaji junction which later exploded.
A local who simply identified himself as Enojo said that the fuel tanker was negotiating Ubagaji/Oshigbudu junction when it fell down and poured its content which spread to a filling station along Oweto axis and exploded.
Enojo said that the fire incident had destroyed major parts of Oshigbudu community.
According to Enojo, “the tanker fell down at a junction in Oshigbudu and while the contents gushed out it spread to a filling station where it exploded.
Enojo said that as at the time of speaking to our correspondent, “the situation is still tense we can not ascertain the number of lives lost but some people were caught up in the inferno.”
But confirming the incident, Vice Chairman of Agatu ocal government, John Ikwulono said that many people might have lost their lives in the tanker explosion.
Ikwulono said, “at the moment, we can not ascertain the number of death now, this thing (tanker explosion) happened at Ubagaji/Oshigbudu junction.
“The tanker was conveying fuel and fell down at that particular junction and fuel gushed out of the tanker and it spread to a nearby fuel station towards Oweto and the filling station caught fire and several houses around the area got burnt.
When further asked of the casualty, Ikwulono said, “people who were not able to escape also got burnt,” adding, “the situation is still on, it is a very terrible thing.
Ikwulono said the situation was compounded due to the non-availability of fire service in the Local Government.
“There is no fire service in Agatu and the only one we have in the zone, (senatorial district) is in Otukpo (which is about one hour drive to Oshigbudu) and when we contacted them, they said their vehicle has broken down.
Ikwulono said that the people had to resort to the use of manual efforts (using water and detergent) to put out the fire, but added that “the damage has already been done.”
He called on the State Emergency and Maintenance Agency SEMA as well as National Emergency and Maintenance Agency NEMA to come to their aid.
When contacted, the State Fire Service Director, Engineer Donald Ikyaaza said that he just received the report but explained that the area (Oshigbudu) is very far from the state capital.
The director however said that the fire service department does not have a substation in Otukpo, adding that the fire service in Otukpo is owned by the Federal Government.