At least 35 people, including one child, were killed in southeastern Benin on Saturday after a fire broke out at a shop where witnesses said gasoline was being unloaded, a Justice Ministry representative said.
The fire broke out at 9:30 a.m. local time in Seme-Podji municipality, near the border with Nigeria, burning down the store and also injuring a dozen others.
According to local media, citing officials, the shop was used as a warehouse for smuggled fuel. An investigation has been opened to determine the cause.
In Benin, smuggled petrol comes from its eastern neighbor, Nigeria, a major oil producer where the price of fuel is cheaper.
The thousands of liters of petrol sold on the streets of Benin's towns and neighborhoods generally come from stations located along the Benin-Nigeria border.
The trade, which generates huge profits, also entails major risks, given the precarious conditions in which the product is stored. As a result, fires occur frequently with heavy tolls.
(With input from agencies)