From OKEY SAMPSON, Aba
Tragedy struck at the weekend at Umuokpo in Amairinabuo Community of Obingwa Local Government Area of Abia State when a fuel tanker exploded, killing several people and injuring others.
Unconfirmed report had it that over 20 people, who rushed to scoop fuel from the fallen tanker, were burnt to death, while others, including 10 persons, said to be on danger list in a mission hospital in the area, sustained various degrees of burns.
However, another source said only three persons had been confirmed dead.
The incident, which happened at Kilometre 10 on the Aba/Ikot Ekpene Highway last Friday, was said to have occurred when a Mack fuel tanker with the registration number ABIA: XA 976 KKE, heading towards Aba, got stuck in mud as a result of bad road condition.
The driver, in an attempt to move the tanker, hired a towing van.
And in the process of pulling it out, the tanker fell on its side and spilled the content.
Immediately the incident occurred, some villagers were said to have rushed to the scene to scoop fuel.
Chief Friday Erengwa, a community leader in whose house frontage the tanker fell, told Daily Sun: “Immediately the incident occurred, villagers rushed to scoop fuel and despite the fact that I came out from my house to warn them against the dangers inherent, they did not listen.
“Even the driver of the tanker made every effort to dissuade the villagers from scooping fuel from the tanker, but they turned a deaf ear.”
It was gathered that some of the villagers were still scooping the product when a commuter bus going to Aba from the Ikot Ekpene wanted to pass through where the tanker had fallen.
In the process, the bus fell into a crater on the road, the exhaust pipe touched a hard surface on the road and ignited fire, which immediately spread to the nearby fallen tanker and burnt everything within its range.
When Daily Sun visited the scene, the fuel tanker was still on fire 24 hours after the incident, even as the villagers decried the attitude of fire fighters from Aba who they said, came when the fire was raging but went back.