Chidiebube Okeoma, Owerri

Tragedy struck on Thursday on Owerri/Aba Expressway, Imo State, when the driver of a tanker laden with premium motor spirit (petrol) was burnt to death.

The incident was said to have caused panic, as people ran helter-skelter.

PUNCH Metro learnt that the tanker was coming from Owerri, the state capital, when the incident happened at Agbala Junction.

The accident was reported to have affected the free flow of traffic on the  road.

Our correspondent was told that while the tanker driver died on the spot, his conductor, who was also affected by the fire, was rushed to the emergency unit of an undisclosed hospital.

A witness said the fire was caused by a fuel leakage from the tanker.

He said, “The fire raged from the back of the heavy-duty vehicle before it engulfed the entire tanker and burnt the driver and his conductor.”

The state Police Public Relations Officer, Orlando Ikeokwu, said a commercial bus with 18 passengers on board ran into the tanker.

Ikeokwu, a Superintendent of Police, said the police rescued the tanker conductor and the 18 bus passengers.

He said, “The tanker driver died on the spot. His conductor was rescued and rushed to hospital. The passengers of a bus that ran into the scene were rescued unhurt.”