Inside the Tanker explosion in the city as retold by witnesses

For primary witnesses of the Fedha Bus Stop explosion yesterday noon, things would have been different had the driver of a 14-seater matatu hearkened to their calls not to ignite his vehicle, moments after gas started leaking from a tanker ferrying Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) along Outering Road. Here, the Nation takes you through the last 15 minutes before the tanker exploded. At 12:16 pm, all was going on as usual at the Fedha bus stop along the busy Outering Road. Five minutes later, a huge LPG tanker took a left turn from Outering Road and headed to the service lane next to the Fedha bus stop just metres off the busy highway.

This bus stage borders the Pipeline Railway Station where commuters board the train to town every day. To get to the service lane, a vehicle has to cross over a railway line and take an immediate right turn. This manoeuvre did not work out as the tanker’s driver had planned as the lorry got stuck at the railway line. This was at 12:20pm. “When the tanker hit the railway, smoke started billowing from the vehicle and we realised it was a gas leakage. The driver told everyone to move away,” a guard at the railway station said. Less than a minute later, people had cleared from the area, motorists started diverting routes of their vehicles, resulting in a traffic jam. Business owners in this vicinity shut down.

At 12:25pm, a 14-seater matatu approached the direction where the LPG tanker had gotten stuck. The driver and the conductor realised there was danger and quickly alighted, leaving the matatu a few metres next to the tanker. Three minutes later, the gas had spread across the entire area. A thought came to the mind of the matatu’s driver, he slowly moved to towards his vehicle. A video clip recorded at 12:29pm, shows him going for the matatu. “Do not go for the vehicle. The lorry will explode,” young men recording the clip could be heard beseeching the driver. But the driver made the decision to board the matatu. This was at 12:30pm.

At 12:31pm, he made up his mind and ignited the matatu.It did not take long. A loud bang reverberated the entire area. The LPG tanker had exploded and, in the process, destroyed the matatu. “We knew something terrible was about to happen. Immediately we saw him walking to the matatu, we retreated from the place,” a vendor, identified as Ken, told the Nation. Ken, like three other roadside clothes vendors, lost his stock in the fire. It had not occurred to him that the fire would get to his business located 30 metres from the explosion scene. Moments after the blast, not a single thing moved at the accident scene. No one knew whether the matatu’s driver had survived the ordeal.

Still in the 12:31pm bracket, he appeared from the direction of the now charred matatu. His clothes had been ripped off and his skin visibly burnt. “Please help me, please help me!” he begged as he moved in pain away from the fire. Surprisingly, the videos seen by the Nation showed that no one moved to his rescue. Some ran from him, some did not even look at him. Speaking to the Nation an hour after the blast, Embakasi Sub-County Commander Wesley Kimetto said no death had been recorded and that only one person was seriously injured.

This injured person was the Nissan’s driver who was rushed to hospital. “We have closed off the road and we are evacuating people near this place and are preventing curious onlookers from moving close to the scene because of safety reasons.,” he said.

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