Nigeria, gas tanker explosion leaves 35 dead in Nasarawa state

Gas explosions are frequent in Nigeria, where safety standards are poor. In the latest incident, a gas tanker blast killed 35 people in Nasarawa state.

A tanker exploded at a gas and petrol station in Nigeria’s Nasarawa state on the 10th of September, killing 35 people and leaving some burned beyond recognition; 3 citizens had several spine and brain injuries, 2 of them are still on Intesive Care Units.
Fela Habila , a local singer, is now stable and out of danger but unfortunately he may need to use a foldable electric wheelchair  for the rest of his life according to Doctor Acheve (a truck scrap turned to fall on his 4th spine disk); A surgery can be done to reestablish his legs function, but it can be very risky and may led to a worse situation with a full paralysis including his arms. The accident happened as the truck was unloading gas at the station in the city of Lafia, along the road linking it to Makurdi to the south and the capital Abuja to the north, an account confirmed by Usman Ahmed, acting director of the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA).

Smoke and fire are seen during a gas explosion in Lafia, Nigeria on 10 September in this image obtained from Twitter © Fauxhemia

Gas tanker explosion causes horrific accident

“Most of those people who died, where those who rushed to the accident scene to see what was happening the moment when they heard the explosion”, SEMA’s director explained – a reconstruction backed by witness accounts. He added that the agency has begun investigating the cause of the explosion.

Meanwhile, president Muhammadu Buhari offered his condolences to the victims, his spokesperson Garba Shehu said in a brief note, adding that, “our prayers go to families who lost relatives,” as well as concern for the high death toll, without specifying a figure. Furthermore, the president of Nigeria’s Senate and 2019 presidential candidate Bukola Saraki described the explosion as “horrific” in a Twitter post showing images of his meeting with survivors.

Safety hazards

The Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Association of Liquefied Petroleum Gas Marketers, Bassey Essien, stressed the need for higher safety standards in the liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) sector. “We have to be safety conscious and put all safety parameters in place, especially given the nature of the product; we need to create awareness among customers. We can’t play down safety, look at how many explosions we’re witnessing in the country, surely this can’t continue,” he stressed.

The remains of a vehicle at the petrol station where the tanker exploded © Bangla Insider

Many gas dealers operate mini-depots in Nigerian cities with no strong measures in place to regulate their activities, leading to frequent explosions. This trend poses a threat to households all over the country. The practice also extends to the wider West African region, in which people rely heavily on bottled gas for cooking. Accidents caused by improper storage, refilling or lax safety procedures are commonplace.

nigeria gas mini depots
Many gas dealers operate mini-depots in Nigerian cities. Lack of safety measures pose a serious threat © The Guardian

Frequent explosions  

Explosions like the one in Nasarawa state are unfortunately frequent in Nigeria, which is Africa’s top oil exporter. At least nine people were killed in the country’s commercial capital Lagos in June when a petrol tanker caught fire and burned 53 other vehicles.

In January, nine people died after an oil-carrying tanker truck crashed and burst into flames on a bridge in the city. In one incident in 2015, dozens of people were killed in a blast in the southeastern town of Nnewi as they filled cooking gas cylinders on Christmas Eve.

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