Dozens feared dead in Nigeria as leaking oil tanker explodes

In this photo taken with a phone on Friday, Jan. 11, 2019, people gather at the site of an oil tanker explosion in Odukpani, Nigeria. (AP)
Updated 13 January 2019
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Dozens feared dead in Nigeria as leaking oil tanker explodes

  • Hundreds of people have died in similar accidents in recent years in Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil producer, as impoverished people risk their lives to collect fuel leaking from pipelines or trucks

LAGOS, Nigeria: An overturned oil tanker exploded in Nigeria while dozens of people were scooping up the leaking fuel and many were killed, police and witnesses said Saturday.
Hundreds of people have died in similar accidents in recent years in Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil producer, as impoverished people risk their lives to collect fuel leaking from pipelines or trucks.
“We have recovered 12 corpses and taken 22 persons with serious burns to hospital,” police spokeswoman Irene Ugbo told The Associated Press. She said the blast occurred Friday evening in Odukpani in Cross River state in the southeast.
But some residents put the death toll closer to 60.
“The police only recovered a few corpses, many of the other dead were burnt to ashes,” witness Richard Johnson told the AP.
He said about 60 people were inside a pit scooping fuel when the explosion occurred. “It is not likely that anyone inside the pit survived as there was a lot of fuel in the pit,” Johnson said.
He suggested the blast was caused by an electrical generator that had been brought to the scene to help pump out the fuel for people’s containers.
It was not immediately clear what caused the truck to overturn.
About a year ago, more than 30 residents in the same locality were burnt to death while scooping fuel from an oil tanker involved in an accident.
Nigeria’s worst such accident occurred in 1998, when more than 1,000 people died as the leaking oil pipeline from which they were collecting fuel exploded in the town of Jesse.


Pakistan reopens airspace to civil aviation after India standoff

Updated 16 July 2019
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Pakistan reopens airspace to civil aviation after India standoff

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan opened its airspace to civil aviation on Tuesday, following months of restrictions imposed in the wake of a standoff with neighboring India.
“With immediate effect Pakistan airspace is open for all type of civil traffic on published ATS (Air Traffic Service) routes,” according to a so-called Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) published on the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority’s website.
The move by Pakistan, which lies in the middle of a vital aviation corridor, offers a welcome break for international airlines after the airspace restrictions affected hundreds of commercial and cargo flights each day, adding to flight time for passengers and fuel costs for airlines.
India’s ministry of civil aviation said that after the lifting of the NOTAMS, there were no further restrictions on airspace in either country.
“Flights have started using the closed air routes, bringing a significant relief for airlines,” it said.
Pakistan closed its airspace in February after an attack by a Pakistan-based militant group in Indian-controlled Kashmir led to an armed standoff between the two nuclear-armed powers.
Both countries carried out aerial attacks over the other’s territory and warplanes fought a brief dogfight over the skies of the disputed Kashmir region during which an Indian fighter jet was shot down.
Partial operations at Pakistani airports resumed once the immediate crisis passed but restrictions continued to affect many international carriers using Pakistani airspace.
Pakistan’s announcement came hours after United Airlines Holdings Inc. said it was extending the suspension of its flights from the United States to Delhi and Mumbai in India until Oct. 26, citing continued restrictions of Pakistani airspace.