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11 killed, others injured in Ibadan market fire

At least 11 people lost their lives while
several others
sustained varying degrees of burns after a tanker
laden with petrol burst in flames around Molete
Market, Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.
An employee of the Nigerian Tribune, Mr. Samson
Oyewole, and an eight year-old girl were among
the victims of the fire which burnt 45 shops at the
market on Saturday night.
Although Oyewole was fortunate not to have
died, eyewitnesses told PUNCH Metro learnt that
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 August 16.
When our correspondent visited the scene on
Sunday morning, the police and other security
agents in large numbers were seen restoring
order while men of the Oyo State Fire Service
Department were trying to evacuate the fallen
tanker and other vehicles affected.
Eyewitnesses said the Saturday fire started when
a truck carrying 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. Most of the deaths
recorded were roadside traders.
Public Relations Officer, University College
Hospital, Ibadan, Ayodeji Bobade, told our
correspondent that 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.
He said, “Eleven people were brought here with a
girl, all suffering from severe burns. One of them
died over night while others are receiving
treatment at the burns unit of the hospital.”
The Iyaloja of Molete Market, Alhaja Iswat
Oyinlola, told our correspondent that but for the
river behind the market, which absolved more
than half of the fuel that spilled from the tanker,
more deaths would have been recorded.
She said, “I was already at home around 10pm
when I got the message that a petrol tanker fell at
Molete roundabout and spilled its content,
causing a huge fire. By the time I got to the
market, the fire had spread. If not for the river
behind the market, the fuel would have flooded
the whole neighbourhood and caused more
death because it happened when many people
were retiring to their beds.
“I discovered that 13 vehicles, seven commercial
motorcycles and three commercial tricycles were
burnt, 10 people were killed and 45 shops were
affected. We don’t know the actual number of
those who died in the inferno but from the list I
have with me, 10 people were confirmed dead.
Others were taken to the hospital.”
Oyinlola added that Governor Abiola Ajimobi was
at the scene early in the morning where he
expressed sympathy at the huge loss.
While blaming commercial bus drivers at the
scene of the tragedy for the accident, Oyinlola
called on the police to enforce traffic law in the
area.
“Commercial bus drivers who have turned the
roundabout to their park, thereby causing huge
traffic around the area, caused the accident. From
what I learnt, 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.
“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.”
Among the dead was a man who was caught in
the fire after leaving a drug store overlooking the
overhead bridge. The owner of the pharmacy
store, Chigozie Eze, narrated how he lost
everything to the fire.
He said, “The driver was trying to steer the vehicle
away from a pothole at the roundabout and at
the same time making attempts not to collide with
the commercial busses at the area when it fell.
The content spilled and exploded. My brother and
another person escaped through the back door
but we lost everything.
“I had more than N400,000 in the shop but it was
burnt to ashes. A customer who just bought drugs
was caught in the fire, he died immediately. I
don’t know where to start again.”
Mr. Ahmed Adeoye, who said he had a store full
of building materials and house accessories in the
market, said he suffered a huge loss. He said
many of the people who died were roadside
traders who refused to obey the government
order.
“The fire gutted everything I had in my shop
including money. I cannot quantify the amount I
lost accurately but it is over N2m. Thank God no
one sustained injury in my shop but many
roadside traders lost their lives and goods in the
fire. I counted about 15 bodies very late in the
night when the fire subsided.”

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