Posted by Pamela Eboh, Awka | 25 December 2015 | 4,639 times
The about 100 hapless people burnt to death Thursday morning would have been alive to witness this year’s Christmas if Nigeria were a country where things work, News Express can report this morning. Investigations by this newspaper in Nnewi, the industrial hub of Anambra State and the South-East, showed that the fire would have been contained if the town had a functional fire service.
News Express learnt that when the fire started at Inter Corp Oil Limited (LPG Gas Plant) located along the Igwe Orizu Road, distress messages were promptly sent to the Anambra State Fire Service but it could not rescue the situation.
A fire officer (name withheld) excused the fire service personnel in Nnewi, claiming that the Nnewi fire truck was vandalised by an angry mob when they went for an operation at Nkpor and was yet to be repaired.
By the time fire fighters from Awka and Okpoko finally arrived, it took the intervention of security agents to save them from being lynched by the angry mob at the scene, which questioned why Nnewi fire station was not functional.
According to eye witness account, the fire started at about 11am and was caused by an explosion that occurred when a truck was making an attempt to discharge its contents without waiting for the mandatory cooling time as customers were said to be refilling at the same time.
Both workers and customers were burnt to ashes together with the gas plant, while some people in the neighbourhood and passers-by also got trapped in the inferno that lasted for hours.
Charred remains of victims and survivors who suffered high degrees of burns were taken to Nnamdi Azikwe University Teaching Hospital (NAUTH), Nnewi.
Many buildings located around the gas plant and over 50 vehicles in the vicinity were equally lost to the inferno.
Lamenting his loss, a teenager who only identified himself as Ikechukwu said: “My mother was preparing pepper we want to use to cook tomorrow after she returned from the market. The next we heard was the explosion that rocked the entire vicinity. I ran for my life and escaped with minor injury but my mother was not lucky.
“She was not as fast as myself; when the fire came down a little bit, the next thing I saw was her dead body. Look at the chicken we plan to kill tomorrow for Christmas!”
The chairman of Anambra State Red Cross, Prof Peter Katchi, who led the rescue operations, said that he is extremely worried about the presence of many filling stations in residential areas in the state.
He pointed out that the situation would have been worse if the affected gas plant was situated in thickly populated areas.
Katchi disclosed out that the Red Cross and the Anambra State Emergency Agency would declare war on owners of filling stations sited at residential areas in the new year.
•Photo courtesy of Daily Sun shows charred remains of Nnewi gas plant after yesterday’s Christmas Eve fire disaster.
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