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Nigeria fuel tanker fire kills at least 95

At least 95 and some estimate more than 100 Nigerians were killed when a tanker carrying fuel burst into flames.

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(Antler)

At least 95 people were killed on Thursday in Nigeria when they rushed to collect fuel from an overturned tanker and it burst into flames, according to Agence France Presse.

The BBC reported a higher death toll, at more than 100, citing witnesses.

Kayode Olagunju, sector commander of the Federal Road Safety Commission in the Rivers state told AFP that the tanker crashed when it swerved to avoid collision with three oncoming vehicles. He said 93 people were burned to death at the scene and two died later. Eighteen others were seriously injured.

The authorities said the tanker tipped over but did not catch fire immediately prompting the villagers to try and collect fuel. It exploded when they were close, burning many of them to death, the BBC reported.

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"Early this morning a tanker loaded with petrol fell in Okogbe and people trooped to the scene obviously to scoop the spilled fuel and suddenly there was fire resulting in casualties," said Rivers state police spokesman Ben Ugwuegbulam, according to Reuters.

The AFP said a motorcycle driver said the time between the vehicle crashing and the petrol catching fire was around 90 minutes, but the timeline could not be confirmed.

Journalist Emeka Idika told the BBC that around 35 people were taken to the hospital with injuries while a mass burial would be held for those burned beyond recognition.

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The tanker crashed on an east-west road in the Niger Delta in the Rivers state.

Bloomberg noted that Nigeria is Africa's top oil producer, but relies on transportation by road due to fear of sabotage on pipelines by criminal gangs trying to steal fuel. Major accidents are common on Nigeria's pot-hole riddled highways, according to Reuters.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/africa/nigeria/120712/nigeria-fuel-tanker-fire-kills-at-least-95