Witnesses and survivors have recounted the horrific fire from an oil tanker that killed nine people and destroyed 54 cars when the tanker fell on Otedola Bridge along Lagos-Ibadan Expressway Thursday evening.
According to a witness identified as Adewale Adesanya, said he never envisaged that the truck would experience any brake failure. He said that immediately the vehicle experienced brake failure, it fell and spilled its contents.
“Due to the state of the road, I saw the content spilling towards my vehicle with fire accompanying it. So I quickly ran out of the vehicle and cross to the other side to avoid been caught in the inferno.”
Another survivor, Michael Simon, whose car was razed, said: “I am happy I didn’t die while trying to escape from the scene. I tried manoeuvring my vehicle to avoid been burnt but my efforts proved abortive.”
Maria Oje, another witness described her escape as the handiwork of God.
She said she saw some motorists’ who failed to run for safety.
“One of them who was on fire fell down, as he could not run any longer. Nobody could rescue them as everyone was also running for dear life.”
Nkechi Obiageli said : “I was in a commercial bus heading towards the Mowe area of Ogun State. The bus was beside the tanker.
“There was traffic and when it cleared a little, the bus driver manoeuvred his way to the front. We were about a few vehicles away from the tanker when we heard the sound of an explosion.
“The fuel from the tanker spilled on the expressway and all the vehicles at its back went up in flames. People ran for dear life. There was confusion everywhere.”
A bus driver, Sunday Esene, said his vehicle was burnt in the accident.
He said, “I had just dropped off my passengers at Berger bus stop and turned to buy fuel. I was on my way back when I saw the tanker. All of a sudden, it tumbled and hit the median. As soon as I realised that fuel was spilling out of the tanker, I abandoned my bus and jumped to the other side of the road. A few seconds later, the tanker exploded. I am sure over 50 vehicles got burnt with many lives lost.”
A motorist, Aderibigbe Oluwafemi, said he escaped death by a whisker as the tanker was in front of his vehicle.
“We were in traffic. When the traffic eased a little, I noticed that the tanker in my front did not move. The next thing I saw was that the tanker started moving backwards and it fell. Immediately it fell, I opened my door, removed my key, phone and jumped to the other side of the road. My car got burnt, but I am happy to be alive.”
It took the effort of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), Lagos State Traffic Management Agency (LASTMA), Lagos State Fire Service, Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Lagos State Ambulance Service (LASAMBUS), State Environmental Health Monitoring Unit (SEHMU), Rapid Response Squad (RRS), the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), the police and other agencies to put out the fire and restore calm on the road.
General Manager, LASEMA, Adeshina Tiamiyu, said: “The accident happened around 5.53pm and involved a tanker loaded with petrol. The tanker fell and spill its content, causing fire which burnt 54 vehicles. The vehicles, which were of different models, were trapped behind the truck.
“Some motorists, who turned to run away, crashed into other vehicles. Some jumped out and others fell into the gutter in the course of running away. We found dead bodies on the ground and in the gutter. Some of the people who died in the gutter had probably been caught by the fire and jumped into the gutter to put it out.
“Nine dead bodies have been recovered and four were injured. Two were seriously injured, while two sustained minor injuries. The injured have been taken to a hospital, while the bodies have been taken by SEHMU to the mainland hospital mortuary. We are currently making efforts to remove the burnt vehicles from the road.”