Posted by Reuters on
Several people were burned to death when fuel tanker trucks caught fire in the southern Nigerian city of Port Harcourt, police said on Thursday.
PORT HARCOURT, Nigeria (Reuters) - Several people were burned to death when fuel tanker trucks caught fire in the southern Nigerian city of Port Harcourt, police said on Thursday.
The reasons for the blaze, which happened late on Wednesday on a road where dozens of fuel tankers park overnight, were not known.
The local police chief said he had received reports that people who were sleeping under some of the tankers or in nearby shacks had been burned to death, but he did not have a figure.
A private security contractor said two people, a boy and a man, had been killed and the fire started accidentally while people were siphoning fuel out of a tanker. Police could not confirm these details.
One community source said a Coca-Cola bottling plant nearby was also damaged, but this could not be immediately confirmed.
Port Harcourt, in the Niger Delta, is the hub of Nigeria's oil industry, the eighth biggest in the world. The city is under a night curfew after street gun battles involving rival gangs and troops killed dozens of people earlier this month.
Fuel tanker fires are common in Nigeria. Some occur because of leaks from poorly maintained vehicles while others happen when tankers have accidents and people take the opportunity to try and collect fuel.
More than 70 people died in March in the northern state of Kaduna when a tanker that had crashed onto its side caught fire while villagers were scooping up fuel spilling out of it.