Lagos: More than 70 people were burned to death in northern Nigeria when a tanker lorry caught fire as they were scooping fuel from it, police said on 28 March, 2007.
The accident occurred in Kaduna State on 26 March, killing more than 70 people in the tragedy. There are some survivors but we don’t know exactly how many,” said an official spokesman.
“The tanker turned over, the villagers came to scoop fuel and the tanker caught fire”, he explained. It was not immediately clear if the impact of the accident caused fuel to leak from the tanker or whether the vehicle was vandalized.
Events perceived as giving a negative image of the country are not reported on by state media in Nigeria. This explains why news of the accident took so long to become public. Road accidents with large casualty figures are common in Nigeria where vehicles are often poorly maintained, overloaded and driven in a reckless fashion.
In November last year a driver lost control of his lorry outside Kaduna during gubernatorial primaries and crashed into a crowd, crushing scores of people to death. Almost equally common are fires where people perish whilst scooping fuel, be it from oil company installations or trucks.
Nigeria’s millions who live in poverty rarely pass up on opportunities to gather free fuel, which can be sold in jerrycans to motorists who run out, from pipelines or vehicles that have either been damaged or vandalized.
Vandalism of pipelines and related installations is also common, with an official report published last July registering 2,258 such acts in the previous five years.
Last December a fire at a vandalised pipeline in Lagos killed some 260 people who were scooping fuel from it in the hope of making a few dollars.