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Fuel Truck Fire Kills Scores of Nigerians


Police say at least 83 were burned alive earlier this week in Northern Nigeria as they were taking gasoline from a crashed fuel-tanker truck. For VOA Gilbert da Costa in Abuja reports that scavenging for fuel is leading to tragedy in Nigeria.

The Nigerian police say victims of Monday's explosion were buried in a mass grave hours after the incident.

Crowds of villagers were collecting petrol from a 33,000-litre tanker truck that crashed in northern part of Kaduna state, when the truck caught fire.

Kaduna state police spokesman Sa'ad Yahaya told VOA what happened.

"A tanker was heading toward the southern part of the state," Yahaya said. "At that point, the driver lost control and the tanker somersaulted in the middle of the road."

More than 2,000 people are said to have died in similar incidents in oil-rich, but poverty-stricken, Nigeria in recent years

Industry analysts estimate that about five percent of the country's crude oil production is stolen for export by well-connected syndicates.

But small-scale theft of fuel, for private use and sale by the roadside, often leads to disaster because of the highly flammable nature of the product.