A cab driver, identified simply as Segi, and a nursing mother were burnt to death on Thursday in a tanker explosion on Sawmill Bridge, Onipepeye, at the Ibadan end of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.
Segi reportedly came out of his cab and was scooping fuel that spilled from the tanker when it ignited.
The woman was said to have been trapped while struggling to come out of a car stuck at the scene.
The car was driven by her husband, who escaped with their two children.
Our correspondents learnt that the fire raged for about 30 minutes before officials of the Oyo State Fire Service and the Federal Fire Service arrived at the scene.
An eyewitness and resident of the area, Babatunde Ajayi, told one of our correspondents that the incident happened around 1.30pm, lamenting that the explosion was avoidable.
He said, “Around 1.30pm, a petrol tanker en route to Ibadan wanted to negotiate its way to avoid hitting a Micra car along Sawmill Bridge, Onipepeye. It slipped and fell in the middle of the expressway. The driver escaped and there was no explosion at that moment.
“Petrol was gushing out of the tanker and streaming down under the bridge. Some people tried to scoop the fuel. There was a woman who was able to scoop two big buckets. A cab driver, who was passing by, parked his car and started scooping the fuel with his jerrycan. While he was at it, a fire ignited from under the bridge and raged to where the tanker was, resulting in an explosion.
“The taxi driver got burnt. The driver of a private car around the scene escaped from the car with one of his two children. The other child, a baby, was strapped to the back of his wife. The woman could not come out. Her husband removed the baby from her back. By the time the woman came down from the car, fire had surrounded her. She was burnt to death.
“The state firefighters came about 30 minutes after they were alerted. And when they got there, they did not come with the chemicals they would mix with water to put out the fire. In the process, men of the Federal Fire Service joined them. They said they did not have water, but they came with chemicals. So, we told them to liaise so that they could put out the fire. They did not agree until the police arrived and talked to them. They eventually put out the fire.”
Ajayi said officials of the Red Cross, Federal Road Safety Corps and policemen removed the corpses, adding that two motorcycles and three vehicles were burnt.
The spokesperson for the police in the state, Olugbenga Fadeyi, who confirmed the disaster to PUNCH Metro, said, “A preliminary report indicated that two people were burnt beyond recognition with four vehicles and two motorcycles also affected.”
Meanwhile, the Oyo State Governor, Abiola Ajimobi, has commiserated with the families of victims of the fire, describing the incident as depressing.
In a condolence statement by his Special Adviser on Communication and Strategy, Mr Bolaji Tunji, the governor said he received the news of the attendant loss of lives and property with grief and sadness.
Ajimobi said, “I condole with the families and friends of those who died in the accident and I wish those injured speedy recovery.
“I am using this opportunity to appeal to vehicle owners to put their vehicles in good condition before hitting the road during this festive season.”