37 killed in Nigeria petrol tanker accident: police

LAGOS (AFP) - Thirty-seven people burned to death in south-east Nigeria after a petrol tanker lost control, rammed into a busy bus station and burst into flames, police said on Monday.

"The lorry lost control and ran into a motor park (bus station) near (a) roundabout in Onitsha", the commercial capital of Anambra state, area police spokesman Uchenna Ezeh said of the crash on Sunday.

"It burst into flames and 37 people lost their lives in the inferno while seven others were injured," he told AFP.

It was not immediately clear what caused the lorry's driver to lose control but Ezeh said there was no sign of foul play.

Roughly a dozen buses and several motorcycles were also destroyed by the fire, the police spokesman added.

Such accidents are common in Nigeria, where many major roads are riddled with potholes and lorries are often ageing and poorly maintained.

Drivers frequently face pressure from superiors to take few breaks on long-haul journeys, meaning people driving petrol-laden trucks are sometimes short on sleep.

Accidents involving petrol tankers have proved extremely deadly in the past as locals have flocked to the scene of accidents to scoop up spilt fuel.

More than 100 people burned to death in July 2012 in southern Rivers state after a petrol tanker tipped over and spilled fuel on the roadside.

As crowds rushed with jerry cans to collect the fuel, the pool caught fire, engulfing scores of people in a deadly blaze.

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