Porto Novo [Benin], September 24 (ANI): At least 35 people have lost their lives in Benin after a fuel depot explosion resulting in a billow of smoke into the sky, Al Jazeera reported citing the officials and witnesses.
In the town of Seme-Podji, close to the Nigerian border, where vehicles, motorcycles, and tricycle taxis had gathered to stock up on gasoline, a fire broke out on Saturday, according to locals.
"The fire burned down the store and according to an initial assessment resulted in 35 deaths including one child," Prosecutor Abdoubaki Adam-Bongle in a statement, according to Al Jazeera.
"According to the witnesses interviewed, the fire was probably started during the unloading of bags of gasoline," the Prosecutor added.
More than a dozen people sustained severe injuries and are being treated in hospital, according to Al Jazeera.
The "cause of the fire is smuggled fuel," according to Alassane Seidou, interior minister of Benin. He said that the flames "badly charred" the victims' corpses.
Along Benin's border with Nigeria, a significant oil producer, fuel smuggling is widespread. In border towns, unauthorised refineries, fuel dumps, and pipelines have appeared, occasionally igniting fires. (ANI)