Benue State's Sector Commander of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), Aliyu Baba, has revealed that the death toll from last week's tanker explosion has risen to a total of 60.
The tanker exploded at Ahumbe village along Makurdi-Aliade-Otukpo highway in the Gwer East Local Government Area of the state on July 1, 2019.
An 18-seater commercial bus was reported to have ignited the fire that triggered the explosion after its silencer made contact with the tar.
The Benue State Police Command reported that many villagers had ignored warnings and swarmed the tanker to scoop fuel after it fell, just before the explosion.
While briefing state governor, Samuel Ortom, on Thursday, July 11, Baba said more victims have died in hospitals in days following the accident, raising the death toll to 60.
"The tanker fire claimed 60 lives. There were additional deaths after the first incident," he said.
Ortom thanked the FRSC for its handling of the accident, and lamented about the avoidable loss of lives.
He said, "Let me say it repeatedly to our people: do not look for any free product, not just petroleum products but any other item. The price is not worth it as it also involves other human lives. We have lost 60 people for no just cause. Some are still in the hospital.
"In the end, some of the victims will have to live with deformities for the rest of their lives. Things that are free usually come with price higher than the free items.
"People should work with their hands, there are many opportunities in Benue. We also lost two fire service fighters who were trying to put out the fire."
The Benue State government conducted a mass burial last week for victims whose bodies were burnt beyond recognition in the accident.
Families that were able to identify their loved ones were allowed to take them for proper burial.