Lagos tanker explosion: We saw death —Survivors
SOME Lagos residents have told horrid tales of how they came within a whisker of death in the tanker explosion which occurred on Thursday on Otedola Bridge in the Berger area of the city.
No fewer than nine lives and 54 vehicles were lost to the disaster which occurred when the fuel tanker went up in flames after the driver lost control.
Four people sustained serious injuries and are said to be receiving treatment in hospitals.
Among the scores of people who got caught in the middle of the incident but cheated death is the mother of a three-year old boy, Eyitayo, whose whereabouts have, however, remained unaccounted for.
The distraught mother, according to sources close to her, was in her car with Eyitayo and his twin sister, Eyitoke, as well as the family’s driver, whose name was given simply as Joseph when the incident happened.
According to her, their position was three vehicles away from the tanker when it caught fire but they all escaped in different directions.
She said she escaped with one of the twins, while the driver helped with the other.
When Saturday Tribune put a call through to her using a telephone line circulated on social media, for an update on her missing child at about 6.30 p.m. on Friday, the woman said, “I have not seen him yet and neither have I seen the driver. We are still looking for them.”
However, at around 10.00 p.m. on Friday, there were reports on social media that the boy had been found, but this could not be confirmed as the mother did not pick all calls put through to her.
Another survivor, Kenny Adenugba, said he owned an office located close to the scene and he flew into the country only a few minutes before the incident as he shared his experience on Facebook.
“A few minutes delay saved me and my staff from the tragedy. I just flew back into town and went straight to the office and this was about six minutes to the accident.
“My staff just ran in to pick my things and said we must leave immediately as liquid fire was roaring towards the office and people were running scared on the street.
“What I witnessed yesterday (Thursday) was beyond words in its horrific dimensions,” he said.
He said he watched as a woman agonised over the loss of her twin sister to the incident.
“As they carried the one that survived, she was screaming ‘mo se’sin!’ (meaning, ‘I’m disgraced’),” he said.
He also said, “We helped drag another woman, her sickle cell daughter and her brother through the car window. Her new Toyota Camry, bags and money were burnt.
“The young boy kept crying that he saw a man come down from a car and get covered by fire as he tried to escape. I pray that he will recover from the horror that has been imprinted on his mind.”
The survivor added that some people jumped into a canal beside a mechanic shop to escape from the scene.
Another resident, Funsho, described his survival as a miracle.
“My escape was a miracle. Immediately the tanker fell, I thought of how to leave the area before it would catch fire. Then I saw some motorists running in my direction and I decided to join them. At that point, fire was spreading in our direction. I had to jump over the median to the other side of the road. I broke my knee in the process.
“A man who was on fire also jumped. In pain, I assisted him to put out the fire which was burning his shirt. He had minor burns. He called his wife with my phone because he said he forgot his in his car,” he added
Adewale Adesanya, another survivor, said, “I saw the content of the tanker spilling towards my vehicle with fire accompanying it. I left the vehicle and ran to the other side to avoid being caught in the inferno.”
Another eyewitness, Otunbakush, however, added a twist to the story on his twitter account.
He said the accident was caused by a commercial driver who stopped to drop a passenger at a spot which was not designated as bus stop.
“After dropping the passenger, he quickly entered the fast lane without looking at his side and the fuel tanker, which was approaching the commercial bus, quickly stepped on his brakes to avoid hitting the bus and this caused the tanker to hit the road partition and flip over,” he said.
He said a heavy casualty could have been avoided if people had chosen to save themselves first instead of their vehicles which many put in the reverse simultaneously.
All the routes around the expressway, including Alausa, Agidingbi, Berger and CMD were blocked for hours as thousands of people were caught in the ensuing traffic caused by the accident that occurred at a period when workers had just closed from work and were returning home.
Many workers were forced to return to their offices or to friends to stay the night, even as most travellers chose to return home.
Vehicle owners suffered as they spent hours in the traffic because they could not abandon their vehicles on the road.
An artisan, Mr James Ogunche, trekked from Ketu to Alausa Secretariat, a distance of about six kilometres with the hope of getting a bus from there. He had to continue his journey to Agege, where he lives.
The state governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, visited the scene of the accident in the early hours on Friday and sympathised with the victims.
Report missing persons –Police
Meanwhile, the police in the state, on Friday, asked relatives of victims of the explosion to visit stations around the scene of the accident to report cases of missing persons.
This, they said, would allow them to work on such cases in collaboration with other agencies of the government.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, Chike Oti, urged the parents of the three-year-old boy who has been missing since Thursday because of the explosion to make an official report with the police.
“They should go to the police station around the scene of the incident and make reports on any missing persons. The police will work on such reports,” Oti said.
He said he was unaware of any report on the missing boy as of the time he spoke with Saturday Tribune.
2 die in auto crash in same spot
In a related development, two people, on Friday, lost their lives in another crash directly opposite the scene of Thursday’s explosion
The victims of the Friday incident were occupants of a commercial Toyota Hiace bus with registration number AAA 926 XV who were coming to Lagos from Osogbo.
It was gathered that the accident occurred when a commercial bus driver who drove against traffic was trying to escape from officials of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASMA).
The vehicle reportedly had a collision with the bus which was coming from Osogbo, resulting in the death of two people.
An eyewitness who identified himself simply as Taiwo said two bodies found under the damaged vehicles were evacuated by emergency workers.
Taiwo said more people would have died in the Friday’s incident but for the fact that some of the passengers in the Osogbo bus had alighted from the bus.
Officials of the Lagos State Ambulance Service, Federal Road Safety Corps, Nigeria Police and Lagos State Emergency Management Agency took part in the rescue operation.