Tragedy struck on Thursday at the Otedola Bridge, Lagos end of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, after a petrol-laden tanker crashed and exploded.
No fewer than 54 cars and commercial vehicles driving behind the tanker on the road were said to have been gutted by fire, during which nine people were reportedly killed.
Emergency management workers were said to have been mobilised to the scene to rescue commuters trapped in the accident.
Lives were reportedly lost in the secondary accident that resulted from the confusion caused by the fallen tanker.
An eyewitness, Nkechi Obiageli, said the accident occurred around 5pm.
She said, “I was in a commercial bus heading towards the Mowe area of Ogun State. The bus was beside the tanker.
“There was traffic and when it cleared a little, the bus driver manoeuvred his way to the front. We were about a few vehicles away from the tanker, when we heard the sound of an explosion.
“The fuel from the tanker spilled on the expressway and all the vehicles at its back went up in flames. People ran for dear life. There was confusion everywhere.”
A bus driver, Sunday Esene, said his vehicle was burnt in the accident.
He said, “I had just dropped off my passengers at Berger bus stop and turned to buy fuel. I was on my way back when I saw the tanker. All of a sudden, it tumbled and hit the median. As soon as I realised that fuel was spilling out of the tanker, I abandoned my bus and jumped to the other side of the road. A few seconds later, the tanker exploded. I am sure over 50 vehicles got burnt with many lives lost.”
A motorist, Aderibigbe Oluwafemi, said he escaped death by a whisker as the tanker was in front of his vehicle.
He said, “We were in traffic. When the traffic eased a little, I noticed that the tanker in my front did not move. The next thing I saw was that the tanker started moving backwards and it fell. Immediately it fell, I opened my door, removed my key, phone and jumped to the other side of the road. My car got burnt, but I am happy to be alive.”
PUNCH Metro learnt that the rescue effort, which was coordinated by the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, also involved officials of the Lagos State Traffic Management Agency, Lagos State Fire Service, Federal Road Safety Corps, Lagos State Ambulance Service, State Environmental Health Monitoring Unit, Rapid Response Squad, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, and the police, among others.
The General Manager, LASEMA, Adeshina Tiamiyu, said firefighters had put out the fire.
He added that some motorists were killed while attempting to run away from the scene of the fire.
He said, “The accident happened around 5.25pm and involved a tanker loaded with petrol. The tanker fell and spilled its content, causing fire which burnt 54 vehicles. The vehicles, which were of different models, were trapped behind the truck.
“Some motorists, who turned to run away, crashed into other vehicles. Some jumped out and others fell into the gutter in the course of running away. We found dead bodies on the ground and in the gutter. Some of the people who died in the gutter had probably been caught by the fire and jumped into the gutter to put it out.