Seven persons were feared dead with several others injured after a truck loaded with 33,000 litres of petroleum product exploded at Ibafo, along the Lagos-Ibadan Express way, Tuesday night.
There were different accounts on how the explosion occurred. A version said a tanker, belonging to Total Oil Nigeria Limited, collided with a heavy log, skidded off its lane and fell on the expressway, spilling its content.
Another version claimed a commercial bus marked (LAGOS) AGL 373 XR, rammed into the truck with number plates RAN 571 XA, while transferring its content into another truck, leading to multiple accidents, involving four vehicles.
A third version said the driver of the fuel-laden truck moving towards Ibadan, Oyo State, attempted to overtake another truck at a diversion point, but lost control, veered off its lane and crashed into the commercial bus that was coming from the opposite direction.
Road side hawkers of petroleum products, occupants of some shanties at Kara area of Ibafo were affected.
Eyewitnesses said some of the victims were scooping the spilled content when the fire started.
Users of the ever busy expressway were trapped for over 10 hours, as the resultant gridlock stretched from Arepo-Prayer city to Mowe.
Eyewitnesses accounts An eyewitness who said he escaped death by the whiskers, Muhammad Ali, called on the Borno and Kano states governors to come to the aid of the victims, majority of whom he said were from the states. Another eyewitness said a passenger attempted to jump out of a Plateau-bound vehicle, but hit his head on the ground and died before reaching hospital. Assistant Corps Commander, Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC, Mowe Unit, Mr. Dare Ogunjobi, could not ascertain the number of casualties.
He said: “After clearing the traffic, we are going to visit some of the private hospitals in the neighbourhood to ascertain the number of injured victims and the casualty figure. But currently, we have not received any report from the Hausas community about any casualty.
“No death has been reported to us officially. We have not seen the driver of the vehicle since Tuesday night after the crash and we are still investigating the cause of the incident. “We received a distress call at about 10:22p.m. and immediately mobilised our men to the scene and police and the Army officers were on ground to prevent break down of law and order.”
On his part, Ogun State Treasurer of the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, Mr. Khalifa Muhammad, said three of the Forum’s members died in the explosion. Seven other persons, who he said were not members of the Forum, were also affected.
He said: “When we rushed the victims to a private hospital in the community, the doctor was demanding for N100,000 for each victim before admitting them. We could only pay N130,000 for Adam. “The rest were brought back home where they were receiving local treatment. They are Abdullahi Umar, 22; Issa Yahaya, 24, and Sallah Muhammad, 23.” The wreckage was eventually cleared at about 3.30p.m., yesterday.