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Benin’s acts following fuel depot fire deaths

The Beninese government has ordered an assessment of all fuel storage facilities after a fatal explosion killed dozens of people over the weekend.

At least 34 people were killed on Saturday after an explosion at a fuel depot in southern Benin.

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A video of the fire, widely circulated on social media, shows a tower of black smoke and flames spewing into the air above what appears to be a marketplace as shocked people watch from a safe distance.

A decentralization and governance ministry statement said the order for an “exhaustive assessment” of all fuel depots was to prevent similar incidents in other areas.

“Despite raising awareness and measures taken by the government to limit smuggling activities, particularly those linked to the storage and sale of gasoline across the country, certain people continue to store gasoline in inappropriate places,” it warned.

Saturday’s incident happened at a depot in a densely populated market in the southern town of Seme Podji near the border with Nigeria.

Benin’s Interior Minister Alassane Seidou told reporters that two babies were killed in the incident.

Fuel smuggling is common along Benin’s border with Nigeria, a significant oil producer. Illegal refineries, fuel dumps, and pipelines have sprung up in border towns, sometimes causing fires.

“I got gas for my motorbike to go do my shopping. I left, and barely five meters away, I heard an explosion. When I turned around, it was all black smoke.”

The justice ministry said it has launched an investigation to determine the cause of the fire.

At least 20 more people were injured and were being treated in hospital.


BBC News
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