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Last Updated: Saturday, 12 January 2008, 11:22 GMT
'Dozens dead' in Nigerian blast
Nigeria map
Dozens of people are feared dead after a fuel tanker exploded on a busy road near the southern Nigerian oil city of Port Harcourt, police say.

Reports say the incident happened when the speeding tanker burst a tyre as it turned a corner, tipped over and spilt oil onto nearby cars and shops.

Witnesses reported seeing burnt-out cars with charred bodies inside.

Correspondents say road accidents are common, with roads suffering neglect and many vehicles poorly maintained.

The incident did not appear to be linked to militants, who are currently involved in a campaign of bombings and kidnappings in the troubled region.

The tanker was carrying stolen fuel and was being chased by police when it crashed, AFP news agency reported.

At least 13 vehicles and several shops were badly damaged by the blast after being engulfed by the spilt petrol.

"I heard a loud bang and I came out of my shop. I saw fire running down towards my shop, but I escaped," 61-year-old shop owner Matthew Eliagwu told the Associated Press news agency.

"It was impossible to help anyone, because I had to run for my life."

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