Three nursery school pupils, five students of the Kogi State Polytechnic and 22 others were feared killed on Wednesday in an accident involving a petrol tanker in Felele along Lokoja-/Abuja highway.
The petrol tanker, fully loaded with premium motor spirit, PMS, and belonging to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), was said to have had brake failure resulting in the accident at about 8:am.
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Witnesses said the tanker rammed into five cars, two motorbikes and three tricyles, popularly known as keke, killing all occupants and some bystanders.
Also killed was a business man identified simply as Samson, his wife and three children.
He was said to have been taking his kids to school before heading to the shop but were caught in the accident.
“I was about crossing the road when I noticed the tanker driver signalling to motorists to steer clear, but suddenly tilted on its side falling on all vehicles beside it.
“Immediately the tanker fell, fire started and incinerated all vehicles along its way” an eye witness, who gave his name as John said.
Federal Road Safety Corps officials arrived to evacuate the corpses burnt beyond recognition while locals made frantic efforts to identify them.
However, the sector commander, Idris Fika Ali, said 23 persons were killed in the explosion while one child escaped with injuries.
Meanwhile, Governor of the state, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, has expressed shock and sorrow over the fatal tanker explosion.
A statement issued immediately after the incident by the chief press secretary to the Governor, Onogwu Mohammed, said that
“Governor Bello is very sad to learn of the tragic loss of lives, many vehicles, property and other valuables in the petrol tanker fire while expressing his deepest condolences to the family of those affected by the ugly occurrence.”
He said this is sadly the greatest tragedies the state had witnessed in recent times while describing the unfortunate accident as a sad development.
Bello also urged the students of Kogi State Polytechnic to remain calm and peaceful, stating that he equally shared in their grieving moment over the death of some of their colleagues in the disaster.