Sylvester Idowu in Warri
No fewer than 17 people were wednesday reportedly burnt to death and many others injured as fuel tanker exploded in Delta State.
However, the state police command confirmed that three people were burnt beyond recognition in the tanker explosion.
THISDAY learnt that the tanker burst into flames after it fell into a ditch around Koko and Ologbo axis of the Benin/Sapele expressway in Ethiope West Local Government Area of the state.
Gory images of the incident circulating on social media showed the burnt remains of people, mainly passengers who were trapped in their vehicles.
An eyewitness said the incident which occurred at about 11 am, resulted in heavy gridlock along the ever busy road.
Most of the trapped passengers were heading to and from Warri in Delta State, Yenagoa in Bayelsa, Port Harcourt in Rivers, Uyo and Calabar in Akwa Ibom and Cross Rivers, respectively.
The witness, who simply gave his name as Nnamdi, told journalists that he was on his way from Benin when their vehicle was made to park because of the heavy gridlock the incident caused on the road.
He said, “the situation was terrible. Many people died because they were trapped.
“If my memory will not fail me, I counted about 20 gory bodies and 10 passenger vehicles that were burnt. Ours was luck because we got there when fire fighters were already battling the fire.
“Many people were trapped inside the vehicles and it was difficult to rescue them because the fire was really huge.
“We were told that the tanker was trying to avoid a bad spot in the road when it suddenly veered off, and fell with an explosion”, he said.
As of the time of filling this report, officials of Federal Road Safety Corp (FRSC) were still battling the fire and rescuing victims.
Several corpses have been evacuated from the vehicles and some seen burnt beyond recognition on the deplorable road.
Delta State Police Public Relations Officer, Onome Onovwakpoyeya, a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) confirmed the incident.
She however said only three persons died with two vehicles and two motorcycles burnt during the incident.