Dozens feared dead in Nigeria as leaking oil tanker explodes

In this photo taken with a phone on Friday, Jan. 11, 2019, people gather at the site of an oil tanker explosion in Odukpani, Nigeria. (AP)
Updated 13 January 2019
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Dozens feared dead in Nigeria as leaking oil tanker explodes

  • Hundreds of people have died in similar accidents in recent years in Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil producer, as impoverished people risk their lives to collect fuel leaking from pipelines or trucks

LAGOS, Nigeria: An overturned oil tanker exploded in Nigeria while dozens of people were scooping up the leaking fuel and many were killed, police and witnesses said Saturday.
Hundreds of people have died in similar accidents in recent years in Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil producer, as impoverished people risk their lives to collect fuel leaking from pipelines or trucks.
“We have recovered 12 corpses and taken 22 persons with serious burns to hospital,” police spokeswoman Irene Ugbo told The Associated Press. She said the blast occurred Friday evening in Odukpani in Cross River state in the southeast.
But some residents put the death toll closer to 60.
“The police only recovered a few corpses, many of the other dead were burnt to ashes,” witness Richard Johnson told the AP.
He said about 60 people were inside a pit scooping fuel when the explosion occurred. “It is not likely that anyone inside the pit survived as there was a lot of fuel in the pit,” Johnson said.
He suggested the blast was caused by an electrical generator that had been brought to the scene to help pump out the fuel for people’s containers.
It was not immediately clear what caused the truck to overturn.
About a year ago, more than 30 residents in the same locality were burnt to death while scooping fuel from an oil tanker involved in an accident.
Nigeria’s worst such accident occurred in 1998, when more than 1,000 people died as the leaking oil pipeline from which they were collecting fuel exploded in the town of Jesse.


Bangladesh police kill three suspected Rohingya traffickers; rescue 15 refugees

Updated 25 June 2019
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Bangladesh police kill three suspected Rohingya traffickers; rescue 15 refugees

  • The group of smuggled refugees included a number of girls
  • Bangladeshi authorities sent the refugees to two different camps after questioning

COX’S BAZAR, Bangladesh: Bangladesh police killed three people suspected of trying to smuggle 15 Rohingya Muslim refugees to Malaysia in a clash on Tuesday near the South Asian nation’s main refugee camp, an official said, the second such incident in as many months.
Nearly 900,000 Rohingya who fled a military-led crackdown in neighboring Buddhist-dominated Myanmar in 2017 live in Kutupalong, the world’s largest refugee camp, and other temporary settlements in Bangladesh’s beach town of Cox’s Bazar.
“On sensing the presence of our team, they fired on police, and police also responded,” said Prodip Kumar Das, a police official in the nearby town of Teknaf.
The men attempting to smuggle the refugees, who included some girls, were shot and died on the way to hospital, Das added. The refugees were rescued and sent to two different camps after initial questioning.
The clash, around 30 km from Kutupalong, followed a tip-off to police, Das told Reuters, adding that they had retrieved three locally-made guns and 15 rounds of ammunition.
The men were themselves Rohingya known to be human traffickers living in the area since their arrival in Bangladesh before 2017, he added.
Rohingya civilians who left Myanmar have said they faced atrocities at the hands of its armed forces but almost all such accusations have been denied by the authorities.
With doubts over whether they will ever return to Myanmar, some refugees in Bangladesh are being drawn toward drugs and violence, say people in the area and aid workers.
The risks of being trafficked have increased as refugees are lured by the promise of work. Anti-trafficking groups fear that routes through the Bay of Bengal are being used to smuggle out Rohingya refugees.
In recent months, police and the coast guard have rescued several dozens of them. Last month police killed two suspected smugglers in a gun fight in a nearby area.