Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
Sector Commander of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) in charge of Benue State, Aliyu Baba, said the death toll in the Ahumbe tanker fire, which occurred on July 1, in Gwer East Local Government Area of the state, has risen to 60.
Baba, who stated this when he led a delegation to pay a courtesy call on Governor Samuel Ortom at the Government House in Makurdi, the capital of the state, disclosed that between Wednesday and yesterday morning, 11 more victims who were receiving treatment at various hospitals in the state had died, bringing the number of deaths to 60 as at Thursday morning.
He condoled the governor over the tanker fire incident, maintaining that the crash had exposed the logistics needs of the Corps such as ambulances to convey victims during rescue operations.
Baba, who recalled that pick up vans were used to evacuate victims from the explosion scene to the hospital instead of ambulances, appealed to the governor to assist in providing two ambulances to the FRSC in the state.
Responding, Ortom, who regretted the high number of casualty from the explosion, warned people against rushing to get free things. He stressed that the repercussions of such escapades are usually grave.
“We should be wary to rush to get things that are free. People should work with their hands. There are several opportunities in Benue and the land is arable enough for everyone to tap,” he said.
Ortom, who noted that it was the second time in his tenure that tanker explosion was claiming lives in the state, prayed God that such will not happen again even as he advised the people against trying to scoop free fuel from fallen fuel tankers.
He said: “Whenever there is an accident, especially for tankers, don’t even go near it. Instead, run away from it as far as you can because the result can be very devastating to everyone.
“We lost two fire service officers in the course of trying to put out the fire. You can imagine the pain. People shouldn’t rush towards fire accidents; they should allow professionals to take over.
“You can imagine losing 60 people at once. Many are still in hospitals and those who survive in the end will live with the scare for life and some of them even deformed.”