Residents of the Iju-Ishaga area of Lagos were on Thursday afternoon sent into a panic as a rancorous explosion rocked the neighborhood.
What started out as a wet and rather calm day quickly turned into a frenzy at about 3:30 pm when a loaded gas tanker exploded around the Iju Hill axis of Ajuwon road.
Some witnesses say at least one person died in the blast that comes at a moment when the nation is trying to come to terms with a similar carnage that left almost 30 including students, dead in Lokoja.
The incident in Lagos left 16 persons critically injured, while scores of buildings and many cars were destroyed, some beyond repair.
In Kogi, the Government has declared a two-day mourning in honour of the victims of a tanker explosion which occurred in Lokoja the state capital, on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Governor Abubakar Sani Bello of Niger State and Chairman North Central Governors Forum condoled with the Government and people of Kogi State over the loss of many lives including Primary School Pupils as a result of an explosion of a Petrol tanker.
In a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Mary Noel-Berje, Governor Sani Bello described the incident as unfortunate, collosal and heart breaking because innocent children whose lives would have been beneficial to the general society have been untimely terminated.
“It is heart breaking that these young and vibrant Youths, including innocent children whom there destinies would have better the lots of our Nation in future have been forcefully exited from life. The painful way to which they left the world is very disheartening”.
The Chairman North Central Governors Forum prayed God to have mercy on the souls of the departed and give the State, immediate families and friends the fortitude to bear the colossal loss.
The announcement for two days of mourning in Kogi is contained in a statement issued on Thursday by the Kogi Commissioner for Information and Communication, Kingsley Fanwo.
“The Governor and the Government of Kogi State are saddened by the unfortunate incident that claimed many lives in the early hours of today.
“The people are the State. Therefore, the primary responsibility of the Government is to ensure the safety and well-being of the Kogi people.
“As a result of the importance placed on the lives of our people, the Government has declared a two-day state mourning to honor the departed souls.
“In this time of grief, we urge the people to be deep in sober reflection and stand together for one another to pull out of the agonizing loss,” the statement read in part.
The tanker explosion, which occurred in the Felele area of Lokoja, along the Lokoja/Abuja Highway claimed 23 lives.
The government, therefore, called on road users to act responsibly in order to avert unfortunate situations that care and caution could have averted.
Full investigations will also be carried out to determine the causes of the incident.
Also, President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has sent his condolences to the families of victims of the disastrous explosion on Wednesday of a fuel tanker on the federal highway in Lokoja.
Lawan expresses grief over the gruesome accident in which more than a score of people, including school children, were reported to have lost their lives or property.
“It is sad and totally unacceptable that such tragedy keeps recurring on our roads despite ample road safety regulations and enforcement personnel.
“While we mourn those who have so unfortunately lost their lives and pray for the speedy recovery of those who are injured, the incident underscores the need for constant review of our road safety strategy and mechanism with a view to making them more effective in preventing carnage on our roads.
“Significantly improving road safety in Nigeria is an urgent challenge for the relevant authorities and other stakeholders in our transport sector. We have to bring an end to the rampant carnage on our roads,” Lawan said.
The Senate President also extended his condolences to the government and people of Kogi State over the tragic incident.
A Damaged Tanker?
Speaking to Channels Television on Thursday at the site of the Lagos explosion, LASEMA’s Director of Operations, Engr Olatunde Akinsanya said the 16 injured persons were taken to the Iju Water Works clinic.
Akinsanya revealed that the ill-fated 30 ton LPG tanker which was being operated by Manna Gas Ltd, was supposed to offload its content at a gas station, but the station’s owner reportedly refused to allow him because a seal had been broken, indicating that the content had been tampered with.
Enraged by the refusal of the station manager to offload the content in his tanker, the driver moved out of the premises.
A few meters away from the gas station, the front tire of the tanker burst and the gearbox compartment struck the ground causing a spark that led to an explosion when it came in contact with gas that was leaking from the tanker.
The vehicle ended in a ditch, where a second explosion erupted.
Eyewitnesses told Channels Television that the second explosion sent the tanker flying and destroying buildings in its path, including a church.
The impact of the explosion spread about 300 radii from the scene of the incident, the LASEMA official said.
It was not yet clear at the time of reporting this story whether the driver of the tanker was still alive as he seemed to have sustained third-degree burns.
“I would have died with my children”
Narrating her close shave with death, Mrs. Maduka Lovelyn, a fruit seller said she had just returned from the market and was arranging her wares when the first blast erupted.
Mrs. Maduka and her kids were tending to customers when they saw a thick cloud of smoke rising a few meters from where her stall is situated.
The perturbed mother said she and her children were lucky to have escaped because they fled at the first cry of “fire! fire!” by some other residents who were closer to the blast spot.
“We were scared as we saw the smoke, it was too much,” Mrs. Maduka stressed as she revealed how it took a race through marsh and mud to get her family to safety.
Increasing casualty figures
Earlier in the day, the Lagos State Government had put the casualty figure at 16, however, a post-disaster assessment late on Thursday revealed that the total number of casualties is 30, consisting of 10 adult females and 20 adult males.
The report further shows that two of the 16 in critical conditions have been referred to the General Hospital in Ikeja.
LASEMA figures suggest that a total of 23 buildings were destroyed in the blast, while 15 vehicles were left with varying degrees of dents.
Prominent among the buildings destroyed are the X and Y Event Center and the Idera Oluwa Plank Market where 15 shanty shops were engulfed.
▪︎ Additional reports and featured photo by Channels TV