Lagos and Ibadan — Two persons got burnt beyond recognition yesterday when a tanker conveying Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) spilt its content on Sawmill bridge, Onipepeye area of Ibadan, the Oyo State capital. Six vehicles and 10 motorcycles and many houses were also destroyed in the fire incident.
Motorists and commuters scampered for safety when the driver coming from Lagos end of the highway lost control just after the Sawmill bridge. In a bid to stabilise the vehicle, he couldn’t prevent the content from spilling on the highway. The identity and whereabouts of the tanker driver remained unknown at the time of filing the report.
Eyewitness account stated that two unidentified persons, male and female, were burnt to death in the inferno. The state police spokesman, Olugbenga Fadeyi, who confirmed the tragedy, said: “Preliminary reports say two people were burnt beyond recognition, with four vehicle and two motorbikes also affected.”
The inferno, which started at about 2:05p.m., occurred while the fuel tanker driver coming from Lagos lane tried to manoeuvre a commercial Nissan Micra taxi and, in the process, lost control and fell.
Eyewitnesses told The Guardian that immediately the tanker fell, its driver and conductor came out to switch off the engine and went to call the fire service. They explained that about 30 minutes after the tanker had spilled its content on the road that an explosion was heard under the bridge.
“It was the spilled fuel from the fallen tanker that caught fire from one pit under the Onipepeye bridge, and before we could say anything, we heard a big explosion,” said a source at the scene.The source who preferred anonymity continued, “It was so horrific, thick flames engulfed everywhere and in the process, two people were overwhelmed by the smoke and were subsequently caught in the fire as others scampered to safety.
“We called the fire service personnel to come and rescue the situation before the fire started, but it took them more than 40 minutes before they arrived, and by the time they got here, the fire had already burnt two persons to death,” he added.Another account by Samuel Omotunde said the victims were inside their cars, trying to navigate their way to the main expressway when they were trapped under thick smoke and got burnt.
Assistant Director, Oyo State Fire Service, Mr. Isiaka Adeleke, stated that his men raced to the scene of the incident immediately they received the call. “We just heard that the tanker has fallen down and that petrol has spilt on the road, the driver of the Micra tried to manoeuvre the vehicle but was unlucky. The man and the woman jumped out of the vehicle but the fire later caught up with them.”
Meanwhile the incident led to a terrible traffic gridlock along the Iwo road end of the Lagos-Ibadan expressway while officials of the Oyo State Command of the Federal Road Safety Corps and the Red Cross were seen removing the bodies of the two victims.