NO fewer than 22 persons have been confirmed dead and three others injured after a petrol tanker rammed into some passenger vehicles and exploded in Abudu, Orhionmwon Local Government Area of Edo State.
It was learnt that deceased victims were burnt beyond recognition in the accident, which occurred at about 4:25pm on Thursday, along the Benin-Agbor road.
It was gathered that tragedy struck when a tanker laden with a petroleum product crashed into the vehicles, which were said to be moving to Benin from Agbor in Delta State before exploding.
The impact of the accident was said to have affected several other vehicles.
The fatal accident, according to an eyewitness, occurred during the diversion of traffic as a result of a faulty bullion van.
State Sector Command of the Federal Road Safety Corps confirmed the incident, adding that it received a call from the Divisional Police Officer in the area.
Officials of the state fire service were said to have been invited to douse the fire while the victims were pulled out of the road.
The spokesman for the sector command, George Otoaviokhai, who spoke to our correspondent on Friday, however, noted that the bullion van was not involved in the accident or razed by fire.
The State Commissioner of Police, Haliru Gwandu, also said that he did not receive any report about a burnt bullion van.
Gwandu had said, “I have not received any information about (a) bullion van. But I know I received a report about a fatal accident. The same Abudu DPO told me about a fatal accident, not bullion vans containing millions of naira or dollars.”
Otoaviokhai listed the vehicles involved in the crash to include two buses, a Sienna car, a Dyna truck, one tanker, a Ford bus, a Toyota Corolla and a motorcycle.
The state FRSC spokesman, who attributed the cause of the accident to brake failure, said the occupants of four of the affected vehicles, including the Toyota Corolla, were burnt to ashes.
Otoaviokhai explained, “The bullion van actually broke down and they were trying to fix it. They diverted traffic. It was in the process of diverting traffic that the tanker rammed into the other vehicles.
“It was not as if it was the bullion van that was affected. It broke down and it was fixed. It was not a head-on collision. The vehicles were coming from Agbor into Benin. The tanker rammed into parked vehicles. The tanker was loaded and there was a combustion.”
He, however, noted that while the corpse of one of deceased persons was deposited in a mortuary, health officers from the local government area were invited to take charge of a mass burial of the charred remains of the other victims.