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Two injured as petrol tankers go up in flames


TWO persons sustained serious injuries as two petrol tankers went up in flames near a fuel depot located at the Abonema Wharf in Port Harcourt on Wednesday.

But for the quick intervention of fire fighters from the state government and Shell Petroleum Development Company, houses located within the scene of the incident would have been razed.

One of the two tankers reportedly caught fire while dispensing fuel to some residents of the area, who always insisted on collecting tolls and fuel from the tanker drivers.

Eyewitnesses gave two different accounts of the incident, which started at about 11.30am.

While a bystander, John Ebiri, told THE PUNCH that one of the residents, was smoking a cigarette as one of the affected tankers was dispensing fuel to some youths, another eyewitness said the tanker driver did not switch off the engine of the vehicle while dispensing fuel.

Ebiri said that the fire incident, which later affected another petrol tanker, might not be unconnected with the unidentified person who came to the spot while smoking cigarette.

One of the injured persons, who were rushed to Teme Clinic in the state capital, had his left hand burnt by the fire.

THE PUNCH observed many residents running helter-skelter in an effort to evacuate their property from buildings around the depot.

One of them, who identified herself as Miss Anita, said she decided to take away some of her personal effects to prevent them from being destroyed if the fire eventually got to her residence.

A middle-aged woman, who ran out of the house with her three kids, told our correspondent that she took only her children along and maintained that it was possible to replace her property if they were gutted by fire, but her children could not be replaced.

The Manager of Sigmund; an oil storage company within the area, Mr. David Okpon, blamed the incident on the attitude of some of youths in the community.

Okpon said the youths stop the tanker drivers as soon as they departed from the depot, took tolls from them and also demanded fuel.

On whether the incident was connected with the recent threat by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta to blow up oil depots and petrol tankers, he described the fire incident as an accident and not sabotage.

“Many times, we have asked them about the issue of taking fuel in portable containers. We have warned them, but we have limitations in what we can do because those things are outside our property.

“They (youths) actually force tanker drivers to stop and give them fuel. So it is just an accident that has nothing to do with sabotage,” Okpon stressed.

Security agents were, however, at the scene to prevent unsuspecting motorists from driving through the Abonema Wharf Road.


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Posted by on Jan 20 2011. Filed under Headlines. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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