13 buildings, 10 vehicles and other valuables worth millions were destroyed after a petrol tanker laden with diesel on Wednesday night exploded at Upper New Market Road, by DMGS Roundabout, Onitsha.
According to eye witnesses, the tanker driver was negotiating the DMGS roundabout when it fell with a loud thud, causing an immediate explosion and spreading fire to several buildings, offices and shops within the area.
Governor Willie Obiano reacting to the incident on Thursday, ordered the relocation of filling stations constructed around residential buildings and markets.
He gave the order at the scene of a fire incident.
According to NAN, the governor, who cut short his trip to Abuja to visit the scene, expressed worry over the increasing cases of fire incidents in the state.
He said, “At about 8 p.m. on Wednesday when I was about to retire after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, I was called and briefed about fire incidents in five locations in the state.
“The fire incidents occurred in Nnewi, Nimo, Okpuno, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka and Onitsha and all started almost at the same time.
“It is only in Onitsha that we had an extensive damage of property where about 15 families were displaced but no death was recorded in all.”
He said that a committee would be set up to find out the remote causes of these fire incidents and what government could do differently to assist the victims.
“We are going to find out whether these filling stations will remain here because Onitsha has grown and the gas stations are now in the midst of residential buildings.’’
The governor said that the committee, in collaboration with the Obi of Onitsha, Alfred Achebe, would determine how the affected 15 families would be resettled around the area for a year.
Mr. Obiano also said that a barrier would be placed across the three flyovers in Awka, to restrict the movement of articulated vehicles on them.
He urged the Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC, to impound articulated vehicles that violate traffic rules and regulations.
While commending the firemen from the state and Asaba, for their timely intervention, Mr. Obiano disclosed that three special fire trucks to complement the existing ones had been ordered.
He appealed to traditional rulers and leaders in the communities to sensitise their people on the need to reduce bush-burning, especially during the harmattan season.
Mr. Obiano also advised people who do not have business around an inferno to run for their lives rather than stay close to take videos and pictures.
He commended the security operatives that assisted during the inferno, saying that their presence helped to stop attempts by hoodlums to loot banks.
Mr. Obiano also lauded members of the public who summoned courage to help put out the fire.
“What is left now is for us to begin the clearance of this place and I will direct our contractors and with the help of the Army, to pull out the tanker and remove the debris,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Anambra State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Tony Nnacheta, decried the enormity of the disaster but remained grateful to God that no death was recorded.
The State Sector Commander of the Federal Road Safety Corps, Mr Sunday Ajayi, said “there will be an investigation into what caused the falling of the tanker as the driver should, ordinarily, be able to navigate the roundabout, if truly he is a driver”.
More photos from the inferno below;