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Nigeria Fuel Tanker Fire Leaves at Least 95 People Dead

At least 95 people died in Nigeria when a tanker carrying gasoline crashed and caught fire today at Okobie village in the southern Rivers state, a road safety official said.

“Villagers were scooping fuel from the fallen tanker when it caught fire and exploded,” Kayode Olagunju, regional head of the Federal Road Safety Corps, said today by phone from Port Harcourt. “The death toll from the fire has risen to 95 with 18 people injured.”

Rescue workers and firefighters are still working to bring the continuing blaze under control, Olagunju said.

Nigeria, Africa’s top oil producer, relies on road haulage for domestic distribution of fuel amid increasing sabotage of pipelines by criminal gangs stealing products from the pipelines to sell, according to the Petroleum Ministry. The West African country relies on imports for most of its fuel supply due to a lack of refining capacity.

At least 100 people died when a ruptured gasoline pipeline caught fire on May 15, 2008 in a suburb of Lagos, the commercial capital.

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