Abuja: A day after nearly 200 people were killed in one of Nigeria’s worst fire tragedies, a mass burial was held close to the site of the accident.
The burial was held near the site where people had rushed to collect petrol that had spilled from a tanker after it skidded off the road, crashed into vehicles and overturned in Nigeria’s southern state of Rivers.
A spark led to a fire that engulfed the area, killing scores of villagers and injuring many others. Those buried were burnt beyond recognition. Security agencies struggled to arrive at a final toll figure even though most of them put it at above 100.
But the Rivers State Commissioner for health, Dr Sampson Parker had said yesterday he counted 200 bodies at the Ahoada General hospital and the scene of the accident.
Residents of Ahoada/Mbiama who had gone to scoop fuel from the tanker were engulfed by a sudden inferno which started as apparently as a result of the use of mobile phones.
Scores of villagers went to the General Hospital, Ahoada where most of the injured persons that numbered more than 50 were taken for treatment to see if their relatives were among the survivors.
Doctors and others medical workers struggled to attend to the accident victims while some were taken to a more equipped hospital in Port Harcourt the capital of Rivers State.
Within the village of Ahoada, those who could not see their members before dusk yesterday became very distraught fearing that they might have been among the dead victims. President Goodluck Jonathan ordered federal relief
agencies to do everything possible to ensure that the injured were given prompt and effective medical attention.
Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) commander for Rivers State Kayode Olagunju had said that three other vehicles and the tanker were involved in a road accident yesterday at Ahoada West Local Government Area of Rivers state.
“Rescue workers from the police, road safety, fire service, civil defence and NEMA were at the scene to evacuate victims and control traffic,” he added.
Nigeria is Africa’s largest oil producer but most citizens live in abject poverty.
Hundreds of people have died in similar incidents, involving leaking oil pipelines or those deliberately punctured by oil thieves.