By Jonathan Ugbal: Government House Correspondent
Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State has expressed deep regrets and sadness over the tragic death of scores of persons after a tanker laden with fuel skidded off the road and exploded at the New Netim junction, of Odukpani local government area.
Ayade who said he was devastated by the unfortunate tragedy, described the incident as not only gripping but mind numbing maintaining that it was a tragedy that should not have occurred in the first place.
A statement signed by his spokesman, Mr Christian Ita, qoutes the Governor as saying that: “My heart goes out to all the victims of the fuel tanker explosion. This is the most horrendous way to die. I am too shocked and traumatized to express the depth of my grief for the victims of the explosion.”
He continued: “As a government, we must try and reach out to the victims’ families who are affected by these avoidable deaths. Whatever circumstances that led to this unfortunate incident must be thoroughly investigated. This is one tragedy too many. We must do something to ensure this does not happen again.”
He pleaded with Cross Riverians not to subject themselves to such cheap and avoidable deaths.
Also, he directed the State’s Ministry of Information and Orientation to immediately begin a sensitization campaign to educate the citizens on the dangers of scooping fuel from fallen tankers laden with fuel.
CrossRiverWatch had broke the news that dozens of men who were allegedly scooping premium motor spirit (pms) commonly known as petrol or fuel from the fallen tanker along the Calabar – Odukpani highway were on Friday afternoon roast to death after an explosion.
New images emerging from the scene shows scores burnt beyond recognition while many who sustained various degrees of injuries are said to be receiving treatment at the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital.
CrossRiverWatch’s Richard Odu who spoke to some eyewitness gathered that the tanker was heading towards Odukpani when it entered a pothole at high speed at a bend just after New Netim junction close to the federal housing estate at Odukpani local government area which caused the front section of the tanker to pull off from the joint with the rear section containing the product.
The residents then rushed to scoop the product while others simply watched on.
An explosion is said to have occurred moments later which according to eyewitnesses, caused about 60 people to roast to death.
Some residents who may have lost colleagues or relatives in the fire had initially stopped people from filming or photographing the bodies which were burnt beyond recognition.
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