UPDATE: 7:25 a.m. EST — The death toll following a gas tanker explosion in Nigerian state of Anambra remained unclear Friday with conflicting reports stating figures ranging from below 10 to more than 100.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari reportedly said that tens of people were killed in the explosion, which occurred after the tanker truck discharging fresh butane cooking gas caught fire.
Meanwhile, police spokesman Ali Okechukwu said eight people were confirmed dead and six others were injured, Reuters reported. But, according to Peter Kachi, a local Red Cross spokesman, four people were killed in the explosion.
David Onwuchekwa, a local journalist who was present at the site, reportedly said: "I saw around 100 charred corpses."
More than 100 people died in Nigeria ahead of Christmas after a gas tanker truck caught fire at an industrial gas plant in southeastern Anambra state Thursday. The truck was reportedly discharging fresh butane cooking gas in Nnewi — a Christian-majority town — where people had gathered to fill their gas cylinders.
Emeka Peters, who witnessed the incident, said the explosion occurred at 11 a.m., local time, (5 a.m. EST) when the truck had finished discharging the gas at the Chikason Group Gas plant, but left without following the prescribed cooling time, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
"The fire exploded like a bomb, and the whole gas station went up in thick, black smoke amidst an explosion from cooking gas cylinders," Peters reportedly said. "Many people were killed, and most of them were those that had been in the station queuing all day to get their cylinders refilled."
The fire continued for hours and those wounded were taken to the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital in Nnewi. "Many of them were burned beyond recognition, and I doubt if many family members of the dead victims would be able to identify the remains of their loved ones," Peters added.
— AJE News (@AJENews) December 25, 2015