Nine more bodies have been found in neighbouring communities, bringing to more than 209 the number of persons killed in Thursday’s petrol tanker fire in Okogbe, Ahoada West Local Government, Area of Rivers State.
The victims were reportedly killed after the tanker caught fire as they tried to scoop fuel.
The villagers said the corpses were found on Sunday morning after a thorough search was carried out around the bush near the scene of the fire.
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One of the villagers, who identified himself as Mr. Graham Aguiyi, said the corpses were taken away by people from Okogbe and other neighbouring communities in Ahoada East.
Speaking to our correspondent on Sunday, Aguiyi added that six corpses earlier brought from hospitals and traditional healing homes had been buried.
He said, “This (Sunday) morning alone, we have buried six persons from Okogbe. They were brought in from different hospitals and native healing centres.
“We have lost many people from Okogbe and other nearby communities. Some people thought those affected were only from Okogbe. That is not true because other communities were also affected.”
He listed Oyakama, Idu, Oshika, Ulakobo I and II, Odiok, Otigba, Olekata, Oyiba, Oboroboro and Ukpelede as some of the neighbouring communities.
Aguiyi added, “A particular hospital refused to accept the fire victims because they (hospital) learnt that they went to steal fuel. That is not correct because not everybody that was involved in the incident went to scoop fuel.”
Another villager, Mr. Elisha Itigwe, said, the victims decided to scoop the fuel because the product was wasting away. He added that the fire also killed bystanders and a few passersby.
He said, “Some of them went close to the place to see what happened while others were just passing when they were caught in the fire. Again, the victims did not waylay the tanker; they went to take fuel when they noticed that the vehicle had fallen.”
Itigwe, who corroborated Aguiyi’s claim that more corpses were recovered from the bush, sought government’s assistance for families of the affected victims.