From Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
Many people were on Sunday afternoon, feared dead in Oshigbudu community of Agatu Local Government Area of Benue State following a tanker explosion in the area.
Also, many houses, shops and vehicles were razed in the ensuing inferno.
Sources from the area who spoke to newsmen by telephone disclosed that a fully loaded tanker conveying petroleum products fell at the Oshigbudu-Obagaji junction and emptied its content which quickly spread to a filling station along Oweto axis and both went up in flames.
“I’m so sad right now because this is indeed a black Sunday for us here. This unfortunate incident has destroyed major parts of Oshigbudu community.
“The tanker fell down at a junction in Oshigbudu and while the contents gushed out, it spread to a filling station where it exploded,” our source who identified himself as Odeh said.
Asked about the casualty figure, Odeh said they were yet to know the actual number of casualty because the inferno was still raging at thebtime.of this report.
“The situation is still tense right now and we cannot ascertain the number of lives lost as at now. But what I can confirm to you is that some people were caught up in the inferno.”
Contacted, the Vice Chairman of Agatu local government, John Ikwulono who confirmed the incident disclosed that many people might have lost their lives in the tanker explosion.
“At the moment, we cannot ascertain the number of death now. The incidence happened at Obagaji/Oshigbudu junction.
“The tanker was conveying fuel and fell down at that particular junction and fuel gushed out of the tanker and it spread to a nearby fuel station towards Oweto and the filling station caught fire and several houses around the area got burnt.
“People who were not able to escape also got burnt. The inferno is still on and I can tell you thay it is a very terrible thing.especially as we are finding it difficult to get fire service to the area,” Ikwulono said.
Continuing, Ikwulono who.lamented that there is no fire service in Agatu stated that the only one in Benue South Senatorial District is located in Otukpo which is about one hour drive to Oshigbudu.
“When we contacted the Fire Service Station in Otukpo, they said their vehicle has broken down,” Ikwulono said adding that the people had to resort to the use of manual efforts to put out the fire.
He however called on the State Emergency and Maintenance Agency (SEMA) as well as National Emergency and Maintenance Agency (NEMA) to quickly come to their aid.
Also contacted by telephone, Fire Service Director in charge of Benue, Engr. Donald Ikyaaza said he just received the report of the fire incident in Agatu.
“Oshodi is a far place from Makurdi and only Otukpo can connect the place. The state does not have sub station in Otukpo. The one there is federal government owned,” he said.
Corps Commander of Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Yakubu Mohammed disclosed that 12 bodies including eight males, three females and one child have so far been recovered from the scene of the incidence.