11 people were burnt to death; 13 vehicles and seven commercial motorcycles also known as ‘Okada’ and 45 shops were also completely burnt while some people suffered various degrees of burn on Saturday, when a tanker laden with Premium Motor Spirit, PMS also known as petrol went up in flames at the Molete Market area of Ibadan, Oyo State.
An employee of the Nigerian Tribune, Mr. Samson Oyewole, and an eight year-old girl were among the victims of the fire.
Oyewole was fortunate not to have died but, eyewitnesses said the death toll could be as high as 15. It was the second major fire incident in the city in two months, with Alesinloye Market fire, being the first on 16 August.
An eyewitness said the inferno started on Saturday when the truck conveying fuel fell at the busy Molete roundabout, burst in flames, consuming 13 vehicles, three houses, seven commercial motorcycles, three commercial tricycles and goods worth millions of naira.
The eyewitness added that if not for the river behind the market, which absolved more than half of the fuel that spilled from the tanker that the damage would have been more.
When the Public Relations Officer, University College Hospital, Ibadan, Ayodeji Bobade was contacted to ascertain the number of victims in their care she said: ‘‘Apart from the eight-year-old girl that was rushed to the hospital, having suffered a high degree of burns, six other males and four females were also brought to the teaching hospital late on Saturday in severe condition, with one of them confirmed dead.’’
The Iyaloja of Molete Market, Alhaja Iswat Oyinlola attributed the cause of the inferno to commercial bus drivers who have turned the roundabout to their park, thereby causing huge traffic around the area.
She disclosed that the truck was unable to negotiate the bend smoothly, and because it had a full load of fuel in its tanker, it lost control and fell and went up in flames.
According to Oyinlola “We appeal to the police to do their work without sentiment. They should ensure that the drivers don’t pick up their passengers by the roundabout. This will ease the traffic around the area and avert disaster.”
Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State was at the scene early on Sunday morning, where he expressed sympathy at the huge loss.