A woman and her baby were burnt to death while more than 40 buildings were razed in a tanker explosion at Upper Iweka area of Onitsha, Anambra State.
Over 500 lock-up shops were also gutted by the fire along with the Iweka street market leading to Ochanja and Menax markets, reports The Guardian.
The explosion was started when a tanker laden with Premium Motor Spirit, otherwise known as petrol, descending from the Zik’s roundabout end of Onitsha-Enugu expressway, lost control at Toronto Hospital and veered off the service lane. The tanker’s head fell off and went up in flames after spilling its content within the area.
It was gathered that the woman carrying her baby reportedly tried to jump out of her shop, but mistakenly stepped on a slippery object and fell into the gutter raging with fire. She could not be rescued as the inferno covered the entire area. According to an eyewitness, the fire started at about 10:00 a.m. and there was no presence of fire servicemen at the scene.
“You can see people looking helplessly as their houses, shops, and goods are burning. If not for the courage of some youths, some elderly persons and children trapped in some highrise buildings along Iweka road would have perished in the fire as smoke almost suffocated them before they were rescued,” he said.
The was, however, a mild drama when two toilet drilling tankers on their way to dumpsites were forced by angry youths in the area to use the feces, mixed with water, to put off the fire.
The Commissioner of Police, John Abang, who later visited the scene for an on-the-spot assessment, appealed to the residents to remain calm.
The fire was said to have been put out at about 8pm in the night, after Delta state fire service had come to the rescue. Though the Fire Service Team could not prevent huge losses that had already been recorded, eye witnesses said it could have been worse.
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