An explosion has rocked an illicit fuel depot located in Cotonou, Republic of Benin, has resulted in the tragic loss of 34 lives. The incident was officially confirmed by a government representative on Saturday.
The government official disclosed that the devastating incident unfolded when an illegal fuel storage site, housing contraband fuel, erupted in flames near the southern border of Benin with Nigeria.
Interior Minister Alassane Seidou addressed reporters, stating, “A serious fire occurred in the town of Seme Podji. Unfortunately, we have 34 deaths, including two infants, whose bodies were charred due to the ignition of smuggled fuel.”
Seidou further reported that an additional 20 individuals were currently receiving medical treatment in hospitals, with some in critical condition.
Fuel smuggling is a prevalent issue along the borders of Nigeria, a significant oil and gas producer. This problem has been exacerbated, particularly when the government has maintained subsidies to keep petrol prices at a low level.