Onitsha
The congested bus station in Onitsha where a tanker exploded and set other vehicles alightPius Utomi Ekpei/AFP

An oil tanker has exploded in a southern Nigerian bus station, killing 69 people, according to the Red Cross.

Nigeria's Red Cross says a runaway oil tanker truck exploded in a crowded bus station in the south of the country, igniting 11 other vehicles and burning 69 people to death.

Red Cross Chairman Peter Emeka Kathy said on Monday (1 June) that about 30 other victims have been hospitalised with severe burns.

"Most people were burned beyond recognition," Emeka Kachi, vice-president of the local Red Cross said.

"We are transferring the corpses to a teaching hospital for DNA testing so that their relatives can identify them for a proper burial."

The tanker was laden with petrol when its brakes failed on Sunday (31 May) night and it ploughed into the bus station at Onitsha, the capital of southern Anambra State, according to local officials.

The incident comes just five days after the end of weeks of strike action by fuel distributors that have crippled the economy.

The fuel marketers said the strike was due to a pay dispute with the outgoing government that was replaced on Friday (29 May) by Muhammadu Buhari's administration.

Neglected refineries mean that Nigeria, Africa's biggest crude oil producer, is almost entirely reliant on imports for the 40 million litres of gasoline it consumes each day.