The Lookout

Nigerian tanker explosion: At least 95 killed after crash as people rush for ‘free fuel’

A Nigerian gasoline tanker caught fire on Thursday, killing at least 95 people in Okobe, a town in the oil-rich Niger Delta.

A witness told Reuters that the tanker crashed on a road and then caught fire as people were trying to scoop up the spilled fuel. According to Nigerian television, most of the victims were rushing for "free fuel."

Hundreds of locals "flocked to the site to collect the spilling fuel," according to Agence France-Presse. A photographer for the news agency said many of those killed were motorcycle taxi operators "who raced to fill up their tanks after learning of the crash."

"Then there was an explosion followed by fire," Kayode Olagunju, sector commander of the Federal Road Safety Commission, told AFP. "Ninety-three were burned to death on the spot. Two died later in the hospital and 18 people were seriously injured."

Crashes are common on Nigeria's "pot-holed and poorly maintained roads," Reuters said. "In a region where most people live on less than $2 a day the chance to collect spilling petrol is too much of a temptation, despite the high risk of fires."

Four vehicles, including the tanker, were involved in the crash, police there said. At least 34 motorcycles were destroyed in the fire.

The death toll could rise. Reuters said at least 92 died. According to the Associated Press, a Nigerian government agency said 95 people were killed in the explosion. Nigerian TV reported the same figure. China's Xinhua news agency, citing local police, said 100 people were killed.

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