It was black Thursday in Lagos yesterday, as a fully-loaded 33,000-litre fuel tanker exploded on Otedola Bridge along Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, killing many people and razing about 67 vehicles.
At press time, 10 bodies burnt beyond recognition had been recovered. It was gathered that the tragedy occurred at about 6.05p.m., after the fuel-laden tanker, which was heading inwards Berger, had a brake failure. While the driver was trying to control the tanker, it reportedly rammed into one of the vehicles and exploded. An eyewitness, Maria Oje, described her escape as the handiwork of God. She narrated, in tears, how she saw some motorists’ failed attempt to run for safety. Her words: “One of them, who was on fire, fell down, as he could not run any longer. Nobody could rescue them as everyone was also running for dear life.”
Some motorists abandoned their vehicles and fled in different directions. Family members were said to be looking for their relatives, after escaping. Among them was a woman, who was sighted crying in search of her twin girls. At press time, thick smoke was still billowing from the scene, with rescue operators battling to contain the situation. Those present at the scene included the Police, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, LASEMA; Lagos State Fire Service; the state’s Ambulance Service; Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, among others.
Vehicles were stopped on both sides of the road, as rescue operation continued. This caused a traffic gridlock, which stretched to the Third Mainland Bridge. Efforts to reach the spokespersons of LASEMA and Fire Service proved abortive. However, Lagos State Police spokesman, Chief Superintendent Chike Oti, who answered a call to his phone, said: “67 cars were affected and 10 charred remains of victims were recovered. “The Commissioner of Police, Lagos State Police Command, commiserates with families of the affected persons and sends his heart-felt condolences to them.” “He warned all tanker drivers to put security measures in place to check recurrence.”