A petrol station along the Lafia-Makurdi road in Nasarawa, North Central Nigeria,
The explosion occurred as petrol was being emptied from the tanker to the gas station, according to Usman Ahmed, acting Director at SEMA.
The incident happened around 10am and was caused by a gas leakage from Monaco gas refill station located on the premises of Natson petrol station.
An eyewitness reported that the explosion occurred after the leakage made contact with the exhaust of commercial motorcyclists in the area.
SEMA said it is investigating the incident.
Onlookers caught in inferno
Many persons who died in the accident were passersby who had rushed to the scene to see what was happening.
“We have confirmed 35 dead and over a hundred injured. Most of those that died rushed to the accident spot to see what was happening,” Ahmed said.
Several persons were burnt beyond recognition during the explosion. More than a dozen vehicles were also burnt in the inferno.
Taxi driver Yakubu Charles told The Associated Press that he helped evacuate victims after more than a dozen occupied vehicles were set on fire.
Victims had to be taken to hospitals on motorbikes as no ambulances were available, Charles said.
Petrol explosions are common in Nigeria
Tanker accidents and explosions are common in Nigeria where regulatory authorities often look the other way as safety standards and precautions are trampled upon.
Nigeria also boasts some of the worst road surfaces in the world—a catalyst for avoidable mishaps and explosions.
In June, a tanker exploded on the Otedola Bridge in Lagos, killing 12 and burning scores beyond recognition.
Shortly after the Otedola Bridge accident, another petrol tanker burst into flames when it collided with a trailer at Mallam Karo, along Minna-Suleja road in Niger State.
Nigeria's commercial capital city of Lagos is often rife with incidents of tanker explosions and accidents caused by articulated trucks plying pot-hole ridden and over-burdened roads.