The Sector Commander of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) in Benue State, Aliyu Baba, on Thursday said that the death toll from last week’s tanker explosion in Gwer East Local Government Area of the state had reached 60.
Baba had earlier confirmed that 37 people had died on the second day of the fire incident which occurred on Monday, July 1, 2019 when a petroleum tanker went up in flames at Ahumbe village along Makurdi-Aliade-Otukpo highway in Gwer area of the state.
He initially confirmed that 101 people were hospitalised at eight different hospitals across the state with different degrees of burns sustained from the explosion but by the fourth day, government officials who carried out an “on-the-spot: assessment of the injured victims at health facilities put the death toll at 51.
The sector commander, however during a visit to Governor Samuel Ortom at the Government House on Thursday, disclosed that more victims of the incident died in the last two days, bringing the figures to 60.
“The tanker fire claimed 60 lives. There were additional deaths after the first incident,” he said.
Baba further informed the governor that the headquarters of the FRSC has approved the establishment of three unit commands in Vandekiya, Adoka and as well as outpost stations at Daudu and Wannune areas of the state.
Responding, Governor Ortom, thanked the management of the FRSC and other agencies who acted promptly when the tragedy occurred as he was worried that it was the second time a tanker fire incident would occur in his tenure, noting that the first happened in Ushongo local government area and had claimed many lives.
Ortom advised locals to shun the idea of scooping fuel from fallen tankers, stressing that the price for running after free items was too heavy to bear, especially as it would also affect other innocent people’s lives just as the two fire fighters who lost their lives in the process of quenching the fire from the Ahume explosion.
“Let me say it repeatedly to our people: do not look for any free product, not just petroleum products but any other item. The price is not worth it as it also involves other human lives. We have lost 60 people for no just cause”.
“Some are still in the hospital. In the end, some of the victims will have to live with deformities for the rest of their lives. Things that are free usually come with price higher than the free items. People should work with their hands, there are many opportunities in Benue. We also lost two fire service fighters who were trying to put out the fire,” the governor added.