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Benin: Families mourn victims of contraband fuel depot fire

People walk past the burned out remains of a contraband fuel depot near the Benin-Nigeria border in Seme-Krake, on September 24, 2023   -  
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YANICK FOLLY/AFP or licensors


The mood in the Seme-Krake neighborhood of Benin's capital Cotonou is still sombre as families mourn their dead who perished in a fire which gutted a contraband fuel depot on Saturday.

There was still a heavy security presence in the area on Sunday. One man said he had lost four family members in the blaze.

"We don't know where the fire started and there were a lot of people in the warehouse. I myself have four members of my family who perished in the flames. My younger brother - same father, same mother - and his eldest son, my brother's wife and my brother-in-law's wife," said Antoine Djanta, a shopkeeper.

Benin is a major destination for smuggled fuel from Neighboring Nigeria. Fire accidents at illegal refineries, pipelines and fuel dumps are common in Nigeria too. 

Many Beninese make a living from selling contraband fuel.

A decision in May by Nigeria's government to end a fuel subsidy caused a dramatic rise in prices, increasing the appetite for smuggled fuel.

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