Stanley Uzoaru, Owerri
Tragedy yesterday hit the neighbourhood of Irete in Owerri West local government area of Imo State as a tanker laden with Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) exploded and killed a woman in another bus trying to make U-turn along Owerri/Onitsha road.
An eye witness, Nnamdi Ojimba who narrated the incident to our correspondent disclosed that the gas tanker after discharging its contents opposite a filling station, Forte oil, along the road where the incident occurred tried to make a U-turn to continue its journey to another destination only to be hit from behind by the bus conveying the deceased who is said to be a trader heading to the Relief market Owerri with her pineapple fruits for sell.
The effect of the bus colliding with the gas tanker, the source said caused the tanker to explode with the remnant of the gas in it.
According to Ojimba, the bus driver who was coming from Delta State was not patient enough as it attempted to hurriedly get pass the tanker before it finishes making its U-turn, it rather hit the back of the tanker which he said caused the explosion killing the woman seated in front with the driver as she was burnt beyond recognition while the driver managed to escape with serious burn injuries and has since been rushed to the hospital.
“The bus driver was not patient enough, because it wanted to pass before the tanker finishes turning and in that process hit the tanker and heavy fire chased people away from the scene.”
He also added that another private car which was also dragging to make a turning at the same point got caught in the wild fire but was lucky to escape with another occupant of the vehicle.
The fire which raged on for one hour according to the source was however able to be extinguished by the help of people that gathered at the scene as they poured soapy water and sand on it.
But given his own side of the incident report, the State director of the Imo Fire Service, Japhet Okereafor said the the bus driver rammed into the tanker while attempting to make a turn.
Another eye witness to the incident, Mr Sam Nwoko blamed the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) for the accident. He said the officials should have even stopped the bus driver which passed them along Ukwu Orji where they have a checkpoint for carrying excess load.
Moreover, he added that the officials should have been at such major U-turns to avert accidents.
Meanwhile, a mild drama ensued between the police and the Federal fire fighters as the DPO, of the area dragged the Personal Assistant to the Federal Fire Service, Okechukwu D. U by the collar for dishing out orders to him.
Okechukwu said “I only told him to tell his boys to condone off the accident scene as the incident commander but he felt slighted and dragged me by my uniform, we are used to those things because he felt why should a 3 star officer be dishing out orders to him.”
This was even as the angry mob at the accident scene rose in anger hauling stones at the fire fighters for arriving the scene late, Okechukwu confirmed their host was damaged by the action of the mob.
Okechukwu although told our correspondent that nobody informed them of the fire incident, he said they were able to know of it through another sister agency who attended a seminar with them at the IICC, Owerri.