The ancient town of Ore a commercial hub of Ondo State, and one of the busiest in the state was recently thrown into mourning.
Over 25 lives were lost when a tanker carrying 33 thousand litres of petrol lost control and crashed into a ditch, its contents spilling into a nearby stream.
Residents, including those on motorcycles, parked and invaded the scene with kegs and buckets to scoop fuel.A survivor who identified himself as Saliu told me, “I am an Okada rider. The tanker fell at about 4:30 pm, I joined other people to rush to the scene where I met many scooping fuel. I joined them after the rain stopped.
“After some time, we heard a loud explosion and the fire moved through the water. There was another loud explosion. Before we knew what was happening, the whole place was in flames.
“We ran away from the tanker. We were over 100 scooping the fuel directly from the tanker. Some people who were trying to run away with their scooped fuel were caught by the fire.
“It started within the residential area where a woman was said to be cooking. She died instantly.”
Another resident, Tijani Diekola, said he was not around when the incident occurred, but had rushed to the scene to look for one of his nephews who was said to be missing.
“What happened was that the fuel started spilling into a stream in the area, while residents continued to scoop it with buckets and kegs.
“Unfortunately, a woman was cooking in her kitchen when the inflammable product on the water caught fire, burning the woman to death, while the fire travelled back to the tanker.
“A pregnant woman crossing the stream with three other minors were caught in the river, and all were burned beyond recognition.
“No one could move to rescue them because of the intensity of the fire….It was early this morning [Monday] some relatives of the victims were able to get the corpses of the affected people.
“This morning I saw about 10 burnt bodies, including my nephew and a pregnant woman, while those around the tanker could not be recognised,” adding the explosionhappened at about 6:00p.m.
A female resident, Mrs Bamidele lamented the death of a nine-year-old boy, Azeez, who she said had just finished eating when the explosion occurred. Residents were scampering for safety when he was trampled to death.
“The mother has been sedated and we await arrival of the father who left for his office in Akure on Sunday afternoon. He had been briefed and the boy will be buried today,” adding that some who made it out of the fire were confirmed dead in the morning.
Meanwhile, the Ondo State government, in a statement by the Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Bamidele Ademola-Olateju, described the incident as a tragedy that should not have occurred, praying God to grant repose to souls of the departed and succor to their families.