Vanguard (Lagos)

Nigeria: Edo Tanker Fire - My Husband Died Trying to Protect His Bus - Widow of Bus Driver

Benin City — MADAM Blessing Oghagbon, widow of late Mr Kingsley Oghagbon, who lost his life after a tanker loaded with petroleum product exploded last Tuesday, said yesterday, that she would not have lost the bread winner of the family, if the late husband had not suffered stomach upset which forced him back home, where the tragedy occurred.

Vanguard learnt that the driver of the tanker, which was coming from Ekiosa Market on the Murtala Muhammed Road, Benin City, lost control of the tanker apparently due to break failure, rammed into a side drain and exploded. The driver of the tanker was said to have escaped alive shortly after the incident. The tanker was completelyburnt .

The petroleum product flooded the road where he accident occurred and over 12 cars and four motorcycles that were parked by the road went up in flames. There was pandemonium at the point the tanker exploded, as people ran for their lives. Some residents abandoned their homes thinking it was a bomb. It was also learnt that a commercial motorcycle rider lost his life in the inferno. But an eyewitness told Vanguard how late Mr. Oghagbon lost his life and denied insinuations that a commercial motorcycle rider also lost his life.

The eyewitness, who identified herself as Esther, said: "I was standing by the road when I heard the explosion and there was fire everywhere. Fuel was now flowing inside the gutter and vehicles were burning. The commercial motorcyclist believed to have died did not die, he tried to start his Okada but it exploded. His leg was burnt though he managed to escape alive."

Sympathizers thronged the residence of the deceased Kingsley, when Vanguard visited. The deceased wife, Blessing, who was visibly wrecked as she recounted watching her husband die in pains, lamented that the deceased, who was a bus driver, left her with three children and cried that he would not have died, if he had gone straight to wash the bus.

"What can I say now? We were all sitting in the room when we heard people shouting outside that a tanker fell into a gutter and that there was fire everywhere. My husband just came back from Onitsha, Anambra State. He wanted to wash the bus but said he had running stomach and decided to come back home first. So when we heard the noise, he ran out to take the bus to the car wash. He entered the bus and started it, the bus exploded. When I saw the explosion I started shouting, telling people that my husband was inside the bus that they should help me.

"I ran inside the house to look for my children and from there I returned to the moat area and was shouting, telling people that my husband was in the fire. But some people were saying he must have escaped to somewhere. Suddenly, we saw him burning and he fell inside the gutter. I feel very bad now because he just came back from work because he was having running stomach. He came to ease himself and to take the bus to the car wash before the incident. He just started the bus before it caught fire. How I am going to take care of three children? she cried.

One of the deceased neighbours who was devastated by the death, lamented that Kingsley died because he was trying to save the bus from being burnt. He said: "It is sad because the bus does not belong to him, so he did not want any thing to happen to it before the owner ask him to pay. He died trying to save the bus. He should have remained alive and allow the bus to be destroyed. That is why I am really in pains. Poverty is a bad thing."

The deceased cousin, Charles, lamented that if "he had known, he would have gone straight to the car wash. But you could see that the devil was at work. The tanker driver has escaped now, so we don't even know who to run to. Who is going to take care of the three children? I don't know how we are going to cope."

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