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Benue conducts mass burial for explosion victims as death toll rises to 48

A man tries to walk past a burnt vehicle and petrol tanker that crashed off the road and exploded leaving over 100 people injured at Ahumbe, Benue State, northcentral Nigeria, on July 2, 2019. – At least 45 people were killed and more than 100 injured in central Nigeria when a petrol tanker crashed off the road and exploded as people gathered fuel, the emergency services said on July 2, 2019.†The truck overturned close to shops as it was travelling through the village of Ahumbe on July 1. (Photo by EMMY IBU / AFP)

The Benue State government has said it will conduct mass burial for persons who were burnt beyond recognition in the petrol tanker fire explosion that occurred at Ahumbe in Gwer East local government area of the state on Monday evening.

Deputy governor of the state, Benson Abounu, who made the disclosure yesterday during a visit to various hospitals handling treatment of some of the victims in Makurdi, said the victims would be buried before the end of Wednesday (yesterday) at the village where the incident occurred, adding that the death toll from the tanker explosion had now risen to 48.

He, however, said families who had been able to identify their loved ones, would be allowed to take them for proper burial. “As I am talking to you now the total number of deaths is 48, and we still have over 90 people who are receiving treatment across hospitals in the state.

“I’m afraid to say it was not an easy ride. The degree of burns is very alarming. We have a case of 90 per cent degree burn struggling for life at the BSUTH. Sadly, it cuts across all ages, there is a nine-year-old in Alaide hospital and another 11-year old at FMC, Makurdi.

“We have unfortunately experienced more mortality between yesterday and today (Tuesday and Wednesday), bringing the total death toll to 48 as I speak now.

“Also, a National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) member from Ogun State, serving in the area was trying to take pictures of the accident when he was affected by the second explosion. He is also receiving treatment in the hospital,” he said.

Abounu said the tragedy was caused by the driver of the commercial bus, which was traveling from Cross River State to Abuja with occupants, mainly family members who were going to bury their father when the incident happened. He said the explosion occurred after the driver refused to heed to people’s advice not to manoeuvre his way through the spilled petroleum product on the road.

Abounu explained further that the driver’s insistence to move on even when other vehicles waited caused the explosion after his vehicle exhaust scratched the road and sparked the fire.

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