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Otedola Bridge Tanker Explosion: “It Was Like War” – Survivors

Following the tragic tanker explosion that took place on Otedola bridge in Lagos on Thursday afternoon, some of the victims have spoken out about their experiences.


A 41-year-old whose commercial bus was directly behind the ill-fated tanker, the moment brought a glimpse of perhaps what the end of the world would look like. In a chat with Punch, where he and a handful other victims of the tragedy are being treated, he said,


“I saw darkness everywhere immediately the tanker exploded. I thought I was going to die. It was as if the end had come. There was commotion everywhere, just like in a war. Nothing else came to my mind. We all believed it was the end,” he added soberly as he narrated his ordeal to his teary-eyed wife – Faidat – and other family members, who had come to check on him on Friday morning.


While attributing his narrow escape to divine grace, the Ile-Ife indigene said that for a few minutes after the tanker fell, he and others in the vehicle were confused as to what to do. He revealed that it was while it was being argued that the content of the truck was diesel or petrol that the entire place erupted in flames.


According to him, after being briefly knocked out by the sound of the explosion, he managed to regain consciousness and enough strength to force his way out of the bus through the front passenger seat. But even after exiting the vehicle, his fears were far from over.


“I jumped into a gutter full of dirty water immediately I forced my way out of the bus,” he said, slowly adjusting his sitting position on the bed. “I had hoped to use the water to quench the fire on my body but unknown to me the water had already mixed with the petrol that had spilled from the tanker. That compounded my problem. While I was struggling to quench the fire on my body, I did not know that my head was burning. I managed to run across the road and into an uncompleted building where people around helped me put out the fire. That was my saving grace, otherwise only God knows what would have happened to me,” he stated.


Like the rest of the victims affected by Thursday’s deadly inferno, Mr. Wasiu Amoo had no inkling of what laid in wait for him when he left his home at Ibafo for work at nearby Kara that fateful morning. A dealer in granite and other building materials in the area, the 68-year-old, who lost his wife and best friend of several decades about three years ago, after completing another productive day at work, was heading home that evening when the commercial bus he boarded was caught up in the tragedy.


While other younger passengers managed to escape with minor burns and injuries, Amoo, perhaps due to age, couldn’t summon a similar swiftness. By the time he managed to drag himself to safety, there had been significant damage done to his aging body. He hangs precariously unto life at the Lagos hospital.


“Large parts of his body were severely burnt,” the 68-year-old’s daughter and fifth child, Aminat said.


“He has not been able to open his eyes since that incident. Initially, he was not able to talk but after oxygen was administered on him on Friday morning, he had been talking gradually. Also, since that incident, he had not been able to urinate on his own; the nurses have been using a device to assist him to do that. He has been complaining of pains. We are praying to God to preserve his life. He is a good father; we cannot afford to lose him now. Since we lost our mother three years ago, he has been playing both roles for us. We beg God to spare his life,” she said.

Also lucky to be alive is Mr. Seun Solarin, an official of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos, who escaped death by mere inches. The young man returning home from work with three colleagues and a few others in a Mitsubishi space wagon that fateful evening was rushing to go and watch the ongoing FIFA World Cup taking place in Russia before things took a different turn. In a few deadly seconds, daylight turned to raging storm of fire that threatened to consume him and others inside the vehicle. Despite sustaining slight injury, Solarin is grateful to have lived to tell his story.

“If anybody told me I’d still be alive by now, I would doubt it,” he said, still looking frightened. “I saw it; I was there, in front of a huge fire, in front of death. I was sitting beside the driver, Williams, my colleague when everything happened. I thought war had broken out. I was afraid that life had come to an end.

“Before the incident, I and Williams noticed how the tanker was manoeuvring anyhow. The tanker driver was waving at other vehicles behind not to come close. As it approached Oando Filling Station, there was traffic and the driver decided not to move forward again. As he tilted the tanker towards the culvert in the middle of the road so that it would stop, the tanker started descending. One of the motor boys quickly disembarked and started throwing a big wood in front of the tyre to stop it. But the tanker climbed a stone and fell. Fuel started gushing out but the others said it was diesel and that it wouldn’t explode.

“But something told me that even if it was diesel, we were supposed to run for safety. So, I asked everyone in the car to run. I had not run up to 100 metres before the tanker exploded. It was like a bomb exploding in a war. I didn’t look back again until I reached Isheri.

“Williams and another colleague, called Aunty Maria are still missing. Another colleague inside the car who managed to escape had his scalp seriously burnt. I pray not to witness anything like this in my life again,” he said as he battled tears.

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