TWO unidentified persons were yesterday burnt beyond recognition when a tanker conveying Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) spilled its content on Sawmill Bridge, Onipepeye area of Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.
The incident, which started at about 2p.m., also destroyed six vehicles, more than 10 motorcycles and many houses.
Safe for the timely intervention of the men of the state fire service, the situation would have resulted in a likely explosion from a nearby gas station around the Onipepeye area as a result of the fuel spill, which also extended to parts of the Onipepeye area.
According to sources, motorists and commuters scampered for safety when the tanker driver coming from Lagos axis end of the expressway lost control of the vehicle just after the Sawmill Bridge.
In a bid to stabilise the vehicle, the driver could not prevent the fuel from spilling on the highway.
In the process, a man and a woman were burnt beyond recognition while trying to escape from the scene of the fuel spill.
The identity and whereabouts of the driver of the fuel tanker remain unknown at the time of filing this report.
A witness, who identified himself as Abbey, said: “It was the fuel spill from the tanker at the main road that caused the fire that sparked from under Onipepeye Bridge. Before we could know what happened, we heard a big explosion. It was terrifying. There were tick flames everywhere. In the process, people started running away from the scene. Two persons were so unlucky, as they were burnt beyond recognition.
”We called the fire service personnel to come and rescue the situation before the fire started. But it took them more than 40 minutes before they arrived. And by the time they got here, the fire had already burnt the two people to death.
“The victims were inside a car, trying to navigate their way to the main expressway. They should be coming from either Gbagi market or Gate axis. We did not recognise any of them. As you can see, they are burnt beyond recognition with all their personal belongings also burnt with them.”
Assistant Director, Oyo State Fire Service Mr. Isiaka Adeleke said his men raced to the scene of the incident immediately they received the call.
He confirmed that the tanker fell down while its content spilled on the highway, leaving no fewer than six vehicles burnt.
Adeleke said: “We just heard that the tanker fell down and that petrol spilled on the road. The driver of the Micra tried to manoeuvre the vehicle but was unlucky. The man and the woman jumped out of the vehicle, but the fire later caught up with them.”
The incident led to a gridlock on the Iwo road end of the Lagos-Ibadan expressway.
Officials of the Oyo State Command of the Federal Road Safety Corps and the Red Cross were seen removing the remains of the two victims.
At the time of filing this report, officials of the State Fire Service were seen at the scene trying to put off the fire from the tanker. Officers and men of the State Police Command were also on ground to forestall a breakdown of law and order.
When contacted, the command’s Police Public Relation, Olugbenga Fadeyi, a Superintendent, confirmed the incident.
But, Oyo State Governor Abiola Ajimobi yesterday commiserated with the family and loved ones of the victims of the fire incident, 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.
While the exact cause of the accidents remains sketchy, the governor said he was pained that it consumed lives and gutted houses and vehicles.
Ajimobi said: “I received the depressing news of the unfortunate accident with grief and sadness. I am, especially pained that it led to the loss of lives and property of innocent citizens, who were going about in search of their daily bread.
“I condole with the family and friends of those that died in the accident and I wish those injured speedy recovery. I’m using this opportunity to appeal to vehicle owners to put their vehicles in good condition before hitting the roads during this festive season.
“I also urge motorists to drive carefully and adhere to all safety precautions to avert a recurrence. We should always remember our loved ones and have consideration for other roads users while plying the roads.
“May God grant the soul of our deceased compatriots eternal rest and mitigate the loss of those who lost properties to the accident.”