It was a black Thursday morning in Okogbe community of Ahoanda West Local Government Area of Rivers State following the unfortunate tanker explosion that roasted over eighty persons to death.
The incident which happened in a boundary community to Bayelsa state also left over seven vehicles burnt while about hundred persons including pregnant women and children were injured.
The ugly scene which also affected traffics along the busy East/West road as most vehicles plying Port Harcourt, Warri, Yenagoa and Lagos routes suffered long queue while others who couldn’t stand the sight made u turn.
247ureports.com that the incident occurred in the early hours of Thursday morning between 7am along the Okogbe community as a tanker loaded with petroleum product got involved in a ghastly road accident with another vehicle forcing the tanker to skip off the road and somersaulted with the product.
The explosion occurred when the villagers seized the opportunity to scoop out petroleum product from the tanker, hence many casualties.
The raging fire which spilled to the main road also burnt vehicles plying the road and motorcycles used in scooping the product even as hundreds of jerry cans liters the scene of the disaster.
Motorbikes were used as a makeshift ambulance in conveying burnt victims to Mbiama community near Bayelsa, a distance of about thirty minutes, searching for hospitals and clinics to treat victims
Although an Oando filling station located near the explosion site was speared from the ravaging fire, good Samaritans were seen combing bushes searching for injured persons along the Agip pipeline close to the explosion area.
Following the close down of the East/West road to traffic, men of the Nigeria Army and Police force were deployed to the scene of the explosion to control traffics.
Narrating the sad incident, Mrs. Cecilia Ike who narrowly escaped death said that the tanker was involved in an accident and somersaulted with product before villagers rushed to scoop the product.
She said following the mass rush of villagers to scoop the product, somebody mischievously threw light to the scene, blaming it all on the youths of the area, even as she gave thanks to God that she was alive to narrate the story because, according to her she had fetched two jerry cans but went in search of more jerry cans before the tanker exploded.
Another eye witness, Mr. Augustine Ayibatari who also escaped death by whiskers gave a rough estimate of death toll to between eighty and hundred including school children.
He said tanker ignited fire at about 7am as villagers trooped to the somersaulted tanker to fetch fuel before the fire sparked off, attributing his escape to God.
But one of the soldiers who witnessed the incident put the death toll to 100 persons, just as he said the death victims were burnt beyond recognitions, adding that some victims were recovered from a stream close to Oando filling station were some burnt persons dived to cool their heated bodies.
Meanwhile, hours after the fire ignited and killed victims, rescue operations from government of Rivers and neighboring Bayelsa state were yet to visit the scene, even as no ambulance vehicles were moved to the site to convey injured persons to hospital for treatment, rather relatives were using motorbikes to convey injured victims to hospitals the few hospitals around the area.
Many people would hardly get treatment due to the near absence of good hospitals around the area.