The Federal Road Safety Corps has confirmed that 12 corpses have been recovered from the scene of the tanker explosion that rocked Oshigbudu community in the Agatu Local Government Area of Benue State on Sunday.
The Sector Commander, FRSC, Yakubu Mohammed, who gave the figure, added that the casualty number might increase because many people were caught up in the explosion.
He said, “The corpses of eight male, three female and one male child were recovered.
“The number may be more, because some houses were gutted by fire and there were people inside.”
Earlier, an eyewitness disclosed that a full loaded tanker conveying fuel fell at the Oshigbudu-Obagaji junction and the content poured and flowed to a filling station in the Oweto area and caught fire.
The eyewitness explained that the incident, which happened in the afternoon, destroyed major parts of the Oshigbudu community.
The eyewitness, who simply identified himself as Sunday, said, “The tanker fell down at a junction in Oshigbudu and while the content gushed out, it spread to a filling station, where it ignited.
“The situation is tense we cannot ascertain number of lives lost, but some people were caught up in the inferno.”
Meanwhile, the Vice Chairman of the local government council, John Ikwulono, who confirmed the incident, also said that many people might have lost their lives.
He stated, “At the moment, we cannot ascertain the number of dead victims now; this thing (tanker explosion) happened at the Ubagaji/Oshigbudu junction.
“The tanker was laden with fuel and fell down at that junction and the fuel gushed out of the tanker and spread to a nearby fuel station towards Oweto and the filling station caught fire and several houses around the area got burnt.
“People, who were not able to escape, also suffered burns; the fire is still burning; it is a very terrible thing.”
Ikwulono said the situation was compounded by absence of a fire service station in the local government.
“There is no fire service station in Agatu and the only one we have in the entire senatorial district is in Otukpo, which is about one hour drive to Oshigbudu, and when we contacted them, they said their vehicle had broken down,” he stated.
Ikwulono said the people had to resort to using water and detergent to extinguish the inferno, adding, “The damage has already been done.”
He called on the Benue State Emergency and Maintenance Agency as well as the National Emergency and Maintenance Agency to come to the aid of the victims.
When contacted, the Director of the state fire service, Donald Ikyaaza, said he just received the report, but explained that Oshigbudu was far from the state capital.
The director confrimed that the service did not have station in Otukpo, adding that the fire service there was owned by the Federal Government.