Tanker Explosion Kills One, Razes Vehicles on East-West Road

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Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa

An attempt by a taxi driver to remove the ‘battery head’ of his car near a fallen petroleum tanker thursday resulted in a heavy explosion that led to the driver’s death and the razing of several nearby cars.

The incident which occurred along the Mbiama axis of the popular East-West road which acts as a link road between the south and the east caused heavy traffic gridlock that lasted several hours.

The Mbiama axis of Rivers State axis where the accident happened was a no-go area for commuters along the busy road, while officials of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) were seen making frantic efforts to clear the area.
An eyewitness said the driver lost control of the tanker after discharging fuel in one of the filling stations in the area.

“The tanker fell shortly after coming out of the filling station. It did not discharge all the products in the filling station. The rest of the product spilled on the road.

“We later heard a bang and fire followed it immediately. It caused panic in the area but the immediate presence of FRSC officials brought the situation under control,” he said.

Bayelsa State Sector Commander of the FRSC, Mr. Ikechukwu Igwe, who confirmed the incident, after he visited the area, noted that a taxi driver died in the incident and sympathised with persons whose vehicles were burnt.

According to him, instead of fleeing the scene after the tanker lost balance and fell, the taxi driver opened the bonnet of his vehicle and attempted to disconnect his battery.

Igwe added that in the process of trying to remove his vehicle’s battery, a spark occurred and caused the explosion.

“The driver just discharged fuel at Lionman Filling Station but as he was going out, the tanker fell. The taxi man that died in the incident came out and discovered that there was no road because other drivers abandoned their vehicles and fled the area.

“The man decided to disconnect his vehicle’s battery before leaving and there was a spark because the remaining fuel from the tanker had spilled on the road.

“The spark caused the fire that killed the taxi driver and burnt five vehicles”, the FRSC chief said.