A gasoline tanker crashed on the east-west road in Nigeria's oil-producing Niger Delta and caught fire, killing at least 95 people.
Hundreds of people crowded around as soldiers and emergency workers lifted bodies into ambulances and police trucks.
The fuel tanker was a pile of smouldering ash, twisted metal and melting tyres.
The fuel tanker was trying to avoid a head-on collision with buses when it swerved into a ditch at about 7h00am on Thursday, said Rivers State police spokesman Ben Ugwuegbulam. It then overturned in the bushes, leaving its fuel to spill.
"Early this morning a tanker loaded with petrol fell in Okogbe and people trooped to the scene obviously to scoop the spilled fuel and suddenly there was fire resulting in casualties," Ben Ugwuegbulam, Rivers State police spokesman, said on Thursday.
Some troops who reached the crash site before the fire broke out told people to clear off, but many ignored the warning, an official from the National Emergency Management Agency said.
Forces from the military's Joint Task Force "got to the scene before us.
They warned people to leave the scene to avoid disaster. But many of them were busy scooping fuel. They disobeyed," Emenike Umesi explained.
Crashes are common on Nigeria's pot-holed and poorly maintained roads, and in a region where most people live on less than $2 a day the chance to collect spilling petrol is too much of a temptation, despite the high risk of fires.
The east-west road, which runs across the oil-producing region, has been scheduled for development for almost a decade and money is allocated for it in the budget each year.
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|William A. Cook|