A tanker truck caught fire and exploded in Nigeria on Thursday shortly after breaking down, killing at least 95 people who then rushed to the scene to scoop fuel, an official said.At least 50 others were injured in the incident in the oil-rich southern Niger Delta region, said Rivers State spokeswoman Ibim Semenitari.
Despite decades as an oil producing region, the majority of those living in the Delta remain desperately poor and mostly without access to proper medical care, education or work. Anger over the situation on several occasions has driven young people to attack foreign oil firms based there and steal fuel from pipelines.
Yushau Shuaib, a spokesman for the West African country's emergency management agency, said the 95 people were killed in the explosion as they ran to the truck to take fuel.
The truck accident took place near Okogbe town in the Niger Delta — a region of swamps, mangroves and creeks roughly the same size as South Carolina. The cause was not immediately known, although fatal crashes are common in Nigeria where decades-old roads are normally pitted with potholes and drivers frequently fail to observe traffic laws. Moreover, corruption often hinders or slows down road maintenance projects.Environmental activist Nnimmo Bassey, however, was quick to blame the truck's accident on country's notoriously bad roads.This tells a tragic story about the state of national infrastructure and the poverty of the people," said Bassey.