By Ikeugonna Eleke
A 35-year old welder who hails from the South Western part of Nigeria, and identified as Monday Ayo Adenipekun, last Tuesday died in a petrol tanker explosion that rocked Amawbia by-pass, along the Enugu-Onitsha Expressway.
Two other persons who were affected by the fire were lucky to escape with varying degrees of burn and were still receiving treatment at Preston Hospital, Ngozika Housing Estate in Awka, as at press time.
Four vehicles, including two tankers, one tipper and a Toyota Camry car, were among those who were burnt in the fire as they were parked at the welder’s workshop at the time of the fire.
Fides gathered that the tanker was brought in for welding after it was found to have some leakage, shortly after discharging a petroleum product.
A source at the scene of the incident told Fides during a visit that the welder was already working on it not knowing that the heat from the welding had affected petrol left inside the tanker after it was discharged, causing it to explode.
‘The tanker exploded while AY (as Ayo the welder was popularly called) was on top of it, welding it. The explosion burst the tank, removing its back and causing a huge fire that engulfed the workshop,’ he said
The welder was killed in the fire instantly, while two persons, a cobbler and an unidentified woman, were badly burnt and taken to hospital.
Haruna Mohammed, spokesperson of the Anambra State Command of the Nigeria Police said, ‘At about 3pm, there was a fire incident at a welding workshop located along Enugu-Agidi road Amawbia.
‘The area was cordoned off and traffic diverted to alternative routes in order to prevent catastrophe until after the fire was successfully put off by fire fighters. Situation was brought under control and obstruction cleared to enable free flow of traffic.
‘Meanwhile, a male cobbler and a woman whose identities are yet to be ascertained, sustained varying degrees of burns and were rushed to Preston Hospital, Ngozika Housing Estate, for treatment, while the welder, one Monday Ayo Adenipekun, popularly known as AY, aged about 35years, who was working on top of the tanker without number plate, was burnt to death and his body evacuated to ChukwuemekaOdumegwuOjukwu University Teaching Hospital Mortuary for autopsy.
‘A total number of four vehicles, including two tankers, one tipper and one Toyota Camry, where affected by the inferno.
‘Preliminary investigation revealed that the exploded tanker was brought into the workshop for welding no sooner than it had discharged fuel. The residual fuel in the tank was eventually ignited during the welding.
‘All the security agencies worked in synergy to control the large crowd, direct traffic and restore order at the scene.’
Meanwhile, investigation showed that the deceased welder’s wife was recently delivered of a newborn, immediately after the New Year.
A source at his workshop said his wife had just been discharged from the hospital that day, following her deliverythe previous week.
‘It is unfortunate that AY died on the same day his newborn baby was brought home to him. His wife has not even been told, and we do not know if she has heard of it from another source,’ the source said.
The late welder is said to be a jovial personality among other artisans around the Amawbia by-pass, and was known to all and even his customers simply as AY.