No fewer than 23 persons including five students of the Kogi State Polytechnic and three children on their way to school have been killed in a road crash involving a petrol tanker in Felele along the Lokoja-Abuja Highway.
The tanker, loaded with Premium Motor Spirit and belonging to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation was said to have had brakes failure around 8 am. The tanker fell on five cars, two motorcycles, and three tricycles popularly known as Keke, killing all occupants.
Among those killed and burnt beyond recognition were five students of the state-owned polytechnic, three nursery school pupils, and passersby.
Also killed was a businessman identified simply as Samson, his wife, and three children.
Samson reportedly sells sewing machines in Lokoja and went to drop his children off at school as he usually does.
An eyewitness told our correspondent that the brakes of the tanker failed during an attempt to manoeuvre and in the process, fell on its side, trapping five vehicles trying to overtake it.
“I was about to cross the road when I noticed the tanker driver signalling to motorists to steer clear, but before you could say, Jack Robinson, the tanker was on its side, falling on all vehicles beside it.”
“Immediately, the tanker fell, the fire started and incinerated all vehicles along its way,” he said.
Our correspondent counted five cars, two tricycles, and three motorcycles burnt.
Men of the Federal Road Safety Corps, who arrived around 10 am came with an ambulance from Rescue/Rehabilitation team to evacuate the corpses while residents made frantic efforts to identify them.
The sector commander of the Federal Road Safety Corp, Idris Fika Ali, said 23 persons were killed in the explosion while one child escaped with injuries.
Meanwhile, the Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello has expressed shock over the fatal tanker explosion.
A statement issued by the chief press secretary to the Governor, Onogwu Mohammed, said,”Governor Bello is very sad to learn of the tragic loss of lives, many vehicles, property and other valuables in the petrol tanker fire while expressing his deepest condolences to the families of those affected by the ugly occurrence.”
The Governor also urged the students of the Kogi State Polytechnic to remain calm and peaceful, stating that he shared in their grief.