Several people were on Sunday feared dead in Oshigbudu community in Agatu Local Government Area of Benue State due to a tanker explosion.


An eyewitness said a fully-loaded tanker conveying petroleum products fell at the Oshigbudu-Obagaji junction and poured its content which spread to a filling station along the Oweto axis and later caught fire.


The eyewitness explained that the incident which happened in the afternoon destroyed major parts of Oshigbudu community.


The eyewitness, who simply identified himself as Sunday said, “The tanker fell down at a junction in Oshigbudu and while the contents gushed out it spread to a filling station where it exploded.”


When asked about the casualty, he said, “We can not ascertain the number of lives lost but some people were caught up in the inferno.”


Meanwhile, the Vice Chairman of the local government, John Ikwulono, who confirmed the incident also said many people might have lost their lives in the tanker explosion.


He said, “At the moment, we can not ascertain the number of death now, this thing (tanker explosion) happened at Ubagaji/Oshigbudu junction.


“The tanker was conveying fuel and fell down at that particular junction and fuel gushed out of the tanker and it spread to a nearby fuel station towards Oweto and the filling station caught fire and several houses around the area got burnt.”


Ikwulono added, “People who were not able to escape also got burnt,” adding, “The situation is still on, it is a very terrible thing”.


The Vice-Chairman said the situation was compounded due to the non-availability of fire service in the local government.


“There is no fire service in Agatu and the only one we have in the zone, (senatorial district) is in Otukpo (which is about one hour drive to Oshigbudu) and when we contacted them, they said their vehicle has broken down.”


Ikwulono said that the people had to resort to the use of manual efforts (using water and detergent) to put out the fire, but added that “the damage has already been done”.


The council vice-chairman however called on the State Emergency and Maintenance Agency as well as the National Emergency and Maintenance Agency to come to their aid.


When contacted, the State Fire Service Director, Donald Ikyaaza, said that he just received the report but explained that the area (Oshigbudu) is very far from the state capital.