By Anayo Okoli
ABA—A tanker laden with petroleum product, yesterday, caught fire in Ehere community in Obingwa Local Government Area near the popular Opobo Junction, Ogbor Hill, the outskirts of the commercial city of Aba, Abia State, inflicting various degrees of injuries on pupils of a private school in the area.
An eyewitness said the pupils sustained injuries in attempt to escape from the fire.
Some residents of houses located within the vicinity of the scene also sustained injuries.
The incident was said to have occurred at about 3.30p.m.
Also, property, worth millions of Naira, including houses and shops and cars, were burnt by during the inferno.
According to an eyewitness, the inferno caused pandemonium in the area as people ran in confusion, for their lives.
The tanker was said to be unmarked and the whereabouts of the driver of the truck, according to eyewitnesses, was not known when some reporters visited the scene of the incident.
Efforts by men of the Abia State Fire Service to put out the fire were not successful.
The incident was said to have occurred when the unmarked tanker laden with petroleum product from Aba metropolis towards Ikot Ekpene in Akwa Ibom State ran into one of the craters on Aba-Ikot Ekpene Road.
According to a source, when the truck entered the crater, the driver came down to ascertain what the problem was and in the process the vehicle exploded.
He added: “The tanker was carrying product we could not identify. The driver ran into a crater and then the driver jumped down. But before one could know what happened, there was an explosion and the entire area went up in flames; people scampered for safety.
“Many shops within the area and vehicles parked along the road were all destroyed in the ensuing inferno.
“No pin was saved. You know this is Monday and a lot of the shop owners stocked goods at the weekend. Many were yet to finish the drinks that they could not sell over the weekend.
“Opposite us, the owner of the shop has about five refrigerators stocked with drinks; all of them were consumed by the fire. It is better told than experienced. Many people were injured in the process.
“We just thank God that no life was lost. We tried to call the men of fire service, but they said that they don’t have diesel. We learned that a Good Samaritan bought gas for them and before they could come, everywhere was engulfed and no pin was saved.
“But before their arrival, we were using water from the waterlogged road. But the damage had been done already.”
The traditional ruler of Ehere community, HRH Eze Young Nwangwa, decried the incident, describing it as one too many and lamented the loss the shop owners incurred.
The monarch called on Abia State and Federal Government to come to the aid of the community by repairing the road that pass through the community, which he said is in a sorry state.
Eze Nwangwa also solicited government assistance to those who lost their property to the inferno. Police patrol teams later arrived the scene to prevent hoodlums looting shops.