In the wake of a tragic fire that claimed over thirty lives on Saturday in Sèmé-Kraké, located just 40 kilometers from Cotonou, the bustling border city serving as the gateway for all trade and traffic to Nigeria, the Beninese judicial system swiftly initiated an official inquiry. The primary objective, as stated by the prosecutor near the Porto Novo courthouse, is to “establish the exact cause and determine accountability.”
The investigative responsibility has been entrusted to a commission comprising seasoned judicial police officers. They have commenced their task by conducting interviews with witnesses and close associates of the victims. Interestingly, the depot’s owner, a Beninese national, has been mentioned in the judicial statement, although the scheduling of his interrogation remains undisclosed.
The Accident Theory?
At present, there have been no reported arrests, according to sources close to the investigation. Regarding the fire’s origin, and while awaiting the investigation’s conclusive findings, several sources have advanced the theory of an accident occurring during the unloading of contraband fuel.
The prosecutor, in alignment with this notion, cited witnesses in the official statement, stating, “The fire likely erupted during the unloading of gasoline sacks.” Furthermore, it is reported that the site’s layout might have compounded the situation, with the warehouse gate being closed, as disclosed by a well-informed source. Only the investigation’s results will definitively confirm or refute this hypothesis.
Lastly, concerning the identification of the victims’ remains, their relatives have been registered for the necessary sampling process, ensuring a meticulous approach to this heart-wrenching aspect of the investigation.