ONYEDI GABRIEL, Port Harcourt
At least two persons have been burnt to death following explosions of two petrol-laden tankers in Rivers State.
The explosion was said to have occurred in a checkpoint-induced accident at Omurelu commumity along the Elele-Owerri Road, Ikwere Local Government Area, Rivers.
The inferno that resulted from the blast was said to have spread in the community, destroying houses, valuable properties and leaving some persons severely injured.
An indigene of the community, Innocent Amadi, said the incident happened when one of the tankers conveying the inflammable product was flagged down by a petroleum task force operating in the area.
He said while the taskforce was trying to “extort” the tanker driver, another tanker driver on speed lost control of his truck and hit the stationary one at the checkpoint
He said the two tankers fell, spilled their contents and burst into flames, lamenting that the taskforce maintained many checkpoints within the community.
“Angry youths from the community went on rampage, destroying other checkpoints in the community. They are angry with the activities of the taskforce. We are calling on the state government to intervene to save our people”, he said.
Another resident, Henry Ezeorgu, said that the incident happened at about 6am on Tuesday.
Ezeorgu said: “This morning a truck loaded with petroleum products was moving towards Imo State, when some security people that wanted to collect money from them changed the truck.
“The truck driver while trying to escape lost control and hit a parked truck. The accident caused a fire. Two people who were in the truck burnt to death while others sustained serious fire burns.”
The Police Public Relations Officer, SP Nnamdi Omoni, who confirmed the development said he was not sure of the casualty figure adding that the Commissioner of Police, Friday Eboka, ordered investigation into the circumstances that led to the incident.
The Media Aide to Chairman, Ikwerre Local Government Area, Mr. Chris Omordu, said his boss was disturbed over the matter and visited the scene.
Omordu, who described the incident as sad, said a lot of property was damanged in the fire.