No fewer than seven persons were confirmed dead and several others injured, when a tanker bearing petrol fell at Amawbia Roundabout in Awka and went up in flames in the early hours of today.
Eyewitnesses told NewsmakersNG that at least eight vehicles and some residential buildings within the vicinity, including a section of the Governor’s Lodge, were also destroyed in the inferno.
Uncomfirmed reports said Governor Willie Obiano was at the Lodge when the incident occurred.
Eyewitness account said that the fire occurred in an area populated by government buildings including the Amawbia Fire Service and the Police Headquarters among others.
Narrating his experience, one of the victims, Mr Paul Igwemma, whose car got burnt in the fire, said the tanker was negotiating a bend when it fell and subsequently burst into flames.
Igwemma, who was full of praises to God, said he had to abandon his vehicle and ran for his dear life.
“I saw the vehicle trying to negotiate to this direction and all of a sudden the tank fell and hit the pavement of the roundabout so I immediately out of my car.
“Few seconds after, there was an explosion accompanied by fire and as you can see, my car is burnt beyond recognition, together with about ten other vehicles,” he said.
An eyewitness, Mary Anyaora, who was seen weeping at the scene, said the number of casualties could still be more.
Anyaora said that many more people were still trapped in their buildings and might not be able to escape from the fire.
She said that the effect of the fire could have been minimal, if there was an immediate intervention from the Fire Service.
Confirming the incident, Mr Andrew Kumapayi, Sector Commander of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), blamed the incident on careless driving on the part of the tanker driver.
Kumapayi said that two persons died, while six others sustained injuries with eight vehicles burnt beyond recognition.
“The driver did not stop when the tank fell, the incident happened in front of the Fire Service and fire fighters were still making efforts to put out the fire,” he said.
The fire was still raging at the time of filing the report, while men of the fire service were seen battling to put it out.