EKO HOT BLOG reports that at least 35 people have been burnt to death at Seme-Krake in Benin Republic after a warehouse used to store smuggled petrol from Nigeria was gutted by fire.
The incident at about 9.30 am on Saturday, was the country’s deadliest fire outbreak this year.
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Around 40 others, injured in the fire, have been evacuated from the scene to the Queme Department Hospital Centre, according to La Nouvelle Tribune, a Benin Republic newspaper.
Bip Radio initially reported 34 deaths, saying that the heavy loss of lives was reported despite the intervention of firefighters.
“A serious fire occurred in the town of Seme Podji,” Interior Minister Alassane Seidou told reporters.
“Unfortunately we have 34 deaths including two babies. Their bodies are charred because the cause of the fire is smuggled fuel,” he said.
In a later update, Prosecutor Abdoubaki Adam-Bongle of the justice ministry said at least 35 people were killed in the fire, as petrol was being unloaded into the warehouse..
“The fire burned down the store and according to an initial assessment resulted in 35 deaths including one child,” said Adam-Bongle in a ministry statement.
He said an investigation had been opened to determine the cause.
The latest fire occurred at Seme Krake, a town on the border with Nigeria, in Benin’s southeastern department of Oueme.
Dallys Ahouangbegnon, chief of the local fire brigade, said the fire, which broke out in a warehouse close to the pineapple market, also ignited houses and vehicles parked near the site.
In Benin, smuggled petrol comes from Nigeria, where the price of fuel is cheaper.
Thousands of liters of petrol sold on the streets of Benin’s towns and neighborhoods generally come from stations located along the Benin-Nigeria border.
The trade, which generates huge profits, also entails major risks, given the precarious conditions in which the product is stored.
As a result, fires occur frequently with heavy tolls.
This Saturday’s fire is the deadliest tragedy because the number of deaths exceeds that recorded in the accident which occurred on Sunday, January 29, 2023 in the commune of Dassa-Zoumé.
In the Dassa-Zoumé tragedy which plunged Benin into mourning at the start of 2023, more than 20 people died and their remains were unrecognisable.
There were survivors with third degree burns. They immediately benefited from support from the government.
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In order to allow grieving families to mourn their loved ones with dignity, the government made the necessary arrangements for DNA tests to be carried out on each remains.
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