A PETROL tanker driver has urged motorists to “calm down” as “fights break out” on forecourts and and petrol pumps “run dry”.

Yesterday - the fourth day of the chaos - saw motorists once again face hefty queues at petrol stations across south Essex, with some even waiting as long as an hour at Shoebury’s Asda garage.

Bus services were also disrupted, with Arriva’s Southend service No 7 diverted due to the panic buying of fuel causing gridlock in Greensward Lane.

A tanker driver, who wished to remain anonymous, has now issued a stark warning against everyone “rushing out at once” to fill up their vehicles.

The 53-year-old, from Basildon, said: “Everyone has gone mad, it seems every site on Canvey has totally run dry.

“People are fighting on the forecourts and punching each other, it’s devastating.

“Not only that but it has a knock-on effect. For food chains like Tesco, Asda, if they don’t get their fuel they don’t deliver the food.

“We’ve also got NHS staff who can’t get fuel.

“People should only fill up when they need to, and I think everyone needs to calm down.

“There are only so many tankers and tanker drivers, but everyone has rushed out all at once.

“It means now we’re in a worse position than we were before.”

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LIVE: Updates as long queues build outside Essex petrol stations...again

Residents across the county are also being urged not to hoard petrol and to store any containers they do have safely and securely.

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service has issued a safety warning following reports that motorists are filling jerry cans and other containers as well as their fuel tanks.

The service is urging people not to panic purchase fuel, and says hoarding petrol could result in fires due to petrol being stored incorrectly in homes and domestic garages.

Will Newman, head of prevention at Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We urge the public against the storing of petrol and diesel due to their high flammability.

“Because of the fire risks they should be stored in approved containers, in a well-ventilated area, and never inside the home.

“Petrol is not only highly flammable but is extremely corrosive and if not stored in suitable containers it could wear away the container, causing leaks.

“It should be stored in a well-ventilated place and away from any source of ignition such as electrical equipment or heaters.”

Demand for petrol should return to normal levels in “the coming days”, the fuel industry has said.

Leading suppliers, including BP, Esso and Shell, said that with many cars now carrying more petrol than usual, pressure on filling stations should start to ease.

Earlier Boris Johnson drew back from implementing plans to send in troops to deliver fuel to the forecourts as Downing Street insisted there were “ample” supplies.

In their joint statement, issued by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the industry urged drivers to return to normal buying patterns.