Thursday, March 29, 2007

NIGERIA BURIES TANKER FIRE VICTIMS !

Nigeria buries tanker fire victims.
By Senan Murray BBC News, Katugal, Nigeria.

Lami Dutse moves around her 27-year-old-son, Danasabe, fanning his badly burnt legs.
Danasabe Dutse's legs were badly burnt when his trousers caught fire"Thank God! Thank God!" she says with tears of joy in her eyes.
Danasabe, 27, is sitting just a few metres from a mass grave where the charred bodies of nearly 100 of his friends and other villagers are buried.
He is among about 20 survivors of a petrol tanker explosion in which at least 98 people were burnt alive in Katugal village in north-western Nigeria in Kaduna state.
The tanker was carrying 33,000 litres of petrol when it crashed at a bend on the road near the village, about 150km (93 miles) north of the capital Abuja.
Ali Peter, who helped with the mass burial, thinks the casualty figure could be as high as 115.
He says the victims were "young men, women and even little children."
'Big explosion'
The burnt carcass of the petrol tanker lies on its side a few yards across the road from where Danasabe sits.
Around the burnt tanker are charred remains of motorcycles, buckets and other containers the villagers used to scoop the fuel.
Many of the villagers are seen in small groups discussing the tragedy in hushed tones.

Nearly 100 of the victims were buried in a mass grave"There was a big explosion and I found myself drenched in petrol and my trousers caught on fire," Danasabe told the BBC News website.
"The explosion hit me as I made to pass near the crashed tanker which was lying in my way. So, I started rolling on the ground, trying to pull off the burning trousers.
"I did manage to get the trousers off eventually, but as you can see, these were the wounds I sustained.
"I consider myself very, very lucky. Some of my friends weren't as lucky as you can see," he says gesturing towards the shallow grave a few yards away.
'Greed and poverty'
Aminu Bako, an eyewitness who also helped with the hurried burial of the victims blames the accident on greed and poverty.
"It's not the driver's fault at all. It's largely due to greed and poverty. Things like this have been happening in the southern part of the country and we have seen them on TV.

People were taking fuel from the crashed tanker when it exploded. "Yet people don't seem to fear that it could happen again. It suggests to me that poverty is a lot hotter than petrol explosions."
Another eyewitness Bitrus Yohanna says it was not the villagers' fault.
"Look, the villagers did not tip the tanker over. They don't even own cars. They simply saw petrol wasting and thought it was a good idea to collect it and make some money."
But John Dogo who is a vigilante leader in the village disagrees. He says he tried to stop the villagers from going near the tanker, but they refused.
'Balls of fire'
"I was still calling on them to leave the scene when the tanker exploded.
"I saw that there were flying balls of fire and when they landed on a person, that person was gone.

Nearby motorcycles were completely burnt out in the fire. "The fire was so fierce that you dared not come close."
Danjuma Elisha, Kaduna State commander of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps led emergency operations at the scene.
He says the tragedy was a high price for what the villagers thought was free petrol.
"People came and started scooping free fuel, but as it turned out, that fuel was not free at all.
"The real price is this mass grave where 98 people are buried. People should learn from what has happened."
But in Nigeria, Africa's largest oil producer, it is difficult to learn from such accidents. Fuel shortages are commonplace due to corruption, poor management and infrastructure problems.
When pipelines in the south pass through poor communities, they are often broken so that the fuel can be stolen.
BBC NEWS REPORT.

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