Officials report that the crude oil spilled onto nearby shops, burning them to the ground.
Rabat – At least 50 people are dead and 101 have been injured after an oil tank explosion in central Nigeria on Monday afternoon.
The tank overturned when it swerved to avoid a pothole along the road in Ahumbe village in Benue State. Bystanders rushed to scoop up oil from the tank when it exploded, reports say.
The explosion was reportedly caused by an exhaust pipe from a passing bus scraping on the ground, causing sparks to fly. The incident occurred next to a number of shops, and at least one of them was completely gutted by the blaze.
The death toll may continue to rise as many of those in hospital are in critical states, according to Nigerian officials. “From the look of things and considering their condition, many of them might not survive,” Aliyu Baba, the federal road safety commission sector commander for Benue state, told the AFP news agency.
Petrol tanker and pipeline blasts are common in Nigeria, where despite the country’s multi-billion-dollar oil and gas industry, most people live in poverty. As a result, fires and explosions often occur as people try to siphon fuel from pipelines.
Accidents involving fuel tankers on poorly-maintained roads, such as this one, are also common. In January, at least eight people were killed in Odukpani, in the southeastern state of Cross River when a similar incident occurred and people rushed to scoop up oil from an overturned tanker.
The incident follows the death of 60 people last October due to a spill at an oil pipeline in the country’s southeast catching fire.