69 killed in oil tanker explosion at Nigerian bus station

A runaway oil tanker truck exploded in a crowded bus station in southern Nigeria, setting ablaze a dozen buses carrying passengers and killing 69 people, the country’s Red Cross and police said Monday.

Nigeria Red Cross Chairman Peter Emeka Kathy said about 30 other victims have been hospitalized with severe burns. He said the truck was traveling down a hill when the brakes failed and it plowed into the bus station at Onitsha before exploding.

Gov. Willie Obiano of Anambra state wept when he visited the scene of Sunday night’s disaster.

Relatives were visiting morgues on Monday to try to identify missing family members.


“All the persons inside the buses -- I think about 12 buses -- were burnt beyond recognition,” Anambra police commissioner Hosea Karma said, according the newspaper Punch.

Joseph Ugwuanyi, a witness, wrote on his Facebook page that the blaze raged for an hour before firefighters brought it under control.

Nigeria has the highest road accident rate in the world, as well as the largest number of deaths per 10,000 vehicles, according to a report by the Nigerian Building and Road Research Institute. It said road accidents are the third-leading cause of all deaths in the West African nation, which is the continent’s biggest oil producer.

With the caveat that most vehicle accidents are not reported, it said 473 people were reported killed in 1,115 vehicle accidents in 2012.