|Crowd at the scene|
Also, at least 27 vehicles and equipment worth several millions of naira were burnt during the ugly incident described by many as the worst in recent times in the state.
The inferno, which spread up to about 100 metres, also affected about eight buildings including a church around the area.
The unfortunate incident, Saturday Sun learnt, occurred around 10:30 am when the tanker driver, in an effort to avoid a collision with an 18-seater bus, ran into a pole beside the road, thereby pouring its content which eventually led to an eruption of serious inferno.
It was further gathered that all the 18 passengers as well as eight other people, who were roadside mechanics, were also burnt to death.
A nursing mother, who was said to be selling engine oil by the road, was among those who lost their lives, while trying to save her baby who was already trapped in the raging fire.
“It was in an attempt to safe her baby from the fire that she died,” an eyewitness who was at the scene of the fire told Saturday Sun.
According to the eyewitness, several people, many of who were roadside mechanics, were seriously injured and are receiving treatment in different hospitals across the state.
Officials of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) as well as men of the Nigeria Police had difficult time controlling the traffic as many motorists were trapped for several hours at the highway.
The incident, which occurred in front of a popular filling station, attracted many sympathizers, but, according to the witness, they all watched helplessly as the victims, the 26 vehicles packed within the mechanic village as well as a stationed lorry were being burnt.
A very terrible damage had been done before the officials of Oyo State Fire Service could get to the scene of the incident.
Many of the residents were already caught in fears of the fire spreading to other houses and shops.
The sympathizers, who could not, control their emotion, wept uncontrollably while also blaming the incident on the increasing number of petroleum trucks plying the road. They urged the government to rescue them from the frequent loss of lives and property at Iwo-Road /Ojoo expressway and the neighbouring communities by outlawing haulage trucks from the expressway.
Oyo State Sector Commander of the Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC, Mr. Godwin Ogagaoghene who described the incident as very unfortunate but said his men were already in control.
Source: Gbenga Adesuyi via The Sun Newspaper