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5 dead, 70 cars destroyed after tanker explosion in Rivers



Five people have been confirmed dead and over 70 cars burnt in the tanker explosion at the Eleme section of the East-West Road in Rivers State on Friday night.

It was gathered that no fewer than four persons were feared killed following a multiple explosion at the Eleme section of the East-West Road in Rivers State on Friday night.

An eyewitness who gave his name as Baridi told our correspondent that the incident followed a petrol-laden tanker which collided with a heavy-duty truck, spilling its contents and bursting into flames.

He said the fire spread to a long stretch of vehicles plying the Akpajo-Onne Road following the gridlock which is a usual occurrence on the road now under construction.

Baridi said, “You know that because of the bad road, there is no alternative route so many vehicles were caught in the fire.

“Some people inside their vehicles who tried to escape the fire were trapped in the fire and died.”

A motorist driving on the road at the time identified as Precious said, “I was approaching Akpajo bridge when I saw a thick hold-up. While I and other drivers tried to move further we saw people running and shouting fire, fire.

“So it was difficult for me even to reverse my vehicle. We meandered and packed somewhere. Only for us to come back and see that more than 100 vehicles were burnt. There are people burnt in their vehicles and some people running were also caught in the inferno.”

He blamed the tragedy on the reconstruction of the road which, according to him, had worsened the gridlock.

“Yes they are working on the road which is good but they should also create access. Not the way they are doing it. First, they should be fast about it and secondly, the contractor should know that vehicles are using the road. Otherwise, this would not have happened,” he added.

Confirming the casualty figure, the spokesperson for the State Police Command, Grace Iringe-Koko, in an interview with our correspondent on Saturday, said, “For now about five persons are dead. The Commissioner of Police and his team were on the ground last night to ensure there is no breakdown of law and order.”

Meanwhile, a source from the Government House, Port Harcourt told our correspondent that the state governor, Siminalayi Fubara, would be visiting the scene of the explosion to see things for himself on Saturday.

Already, the State Commissioner of Police, Olatunji Disu, with men from the Eleme Police Division and officials of the Federal Road Safety Corps had been on the ground since Friday night.

It was observed that a team of firemen from the Indorama Petrochemical Company assisted by firemen from other private firms battled for about two hours before the fire was put out.

Similarly, in March 2023, no fewer than 12 persons were confirmed dead following an early morning explosion at a crude oil tapping point in Rumuekpe community, Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State.

The incident occurred at about 2 am on Friday when one of the buses loaded with crude went up in flames while trying to navigate to an illegal refining point in the area.

An environmentalist and Executive Director, Youths and Environmental Advocacy Centre, Fyneface Dumnamene, confirmed the incident.


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