Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
Deceased victims of the petroleum tanker explosion in Ahumbe village along Makurdi-Aliade-Otukpo highway in Gwer East Local Government Area of Benue State are to be given a befitting mass burial today, Benue State government has said.
The state Deputy Governor, Engr. Benson Abounu, who disclosed this to newsmen in Makurdi on Wednesday, added that the death toll from the tanker explosion had now risen to 48.
Abounu stated further that there were still 96 other victims of the accident in various conditions at different medical facilities in Alaide and Makurdi.
The deputy governor who visited the victims at Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Benue State Teaching Hospital (BSUTH), Bishop Murray Medical Centre and Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Hospital, all in Makurdi said the state government would give mass burial to the victims that were burnt beyond recognition in the village where the incident happened before the end of today (Wednesday) while families who can identify their relations’ corpses will be allowed to take them away.
“I’m afraid to say it was not an easy ride. The degree of burns is very alarming. We have a case of 90 percent degree burn struggling for life at the BSUTH. Sadly, it cuts across all ages, there is a nine-year-old in Alaide hospital and another 11-year old at FMC, Makurdi.
“We have unfortunately experienced more mortality between yesterday and today (Tuesday and Wednesday), bringing the total death toll to 48 as I speak now. Over 90 are still receiving treatment but they are in good hands in all the hospitals,” he said.
Abounu said the tragedy caused by the driver of the commercial bus which was traveling from Cross River State to Abuja with occupants, mainly of family members who went to bury their father when the incident happened.
He said the explosion occurred after the driver refused to heed to people’s advice not to manoeuvre his way through the spilled petroleum product on the road.
Abounu explained further that the driver’s insistence to move on even when other vehicles waited caused the explosion after his vehicle exhaust scratched the road and sparked the fire.
The deputy governor, however, disclosed that some occupants of the Abuja-bound bus survived while survivors in other vehicles, as well as onlookers in the second explosion, included a corps member from Ondo State who was videoing the incident and two firefighters.