Posted by Pamela Eboh, Awka | 3 January 2015 | 3,610 times
As people were celebrating the joyful season of Christmas with gifts and exchange of visits, tragedy visited a family in Umuele, Umudim, Nnewi North Local Government Area of Anambra State. It came in the form of a monster fire that consumed four children of same parents in their three-bedroom apartment located on the ground floor of a storey building. Their parents, Anthony and Chinemerem Ofomata, were away during the time of the tragedy.
The victims – six years old Chioma, Goodness and Mercy (twins aged three years) and two years old Ifeoma – were allegedly locked inside the apartment by their mother, Mrs. Chinemerem Ofomata, who was said to have gone to pick her own share of rice shared among widows in the community after her husband, a vulcaniser, had left for work with two of their children (both boys) – eight years old Kosi and five years old Ebuka.
The father of the deceased children, Mr. Anthony Ofomata, 57, said that it was around 6pm on December 25 that he returned home to see a crowd of people at his residence, which is isolated from other buildings. He spoke of his agony in seeing raging flames and people struggling to destroy the doors, windows and iron burglaries in a failed bid to rescue the four children inside the building occupied only by his family.
Ofomata disclosed that his wife did not inform him of her outing, neither did he know that the children were locked inside the house.
An eye witness, Mr. Emmanuel Okeke, who spoke with News Express, said that people’s attention was drawn to the house when flames started coming out through the windows and that they didn’t hear any cry for help. He said that when the door was finally forced open, the charred remains of the children were seen mangled together at one corner of the house where they had apparently run to in the hope of being rescued.
On her part, the bereaved mother said the door was locked from outside to restrict the movement of the children, adding that it was not the first time the children were locked inside.
“I locked them inside after having a meal with them and went out to share rice. The rice was not meant for widows but for everybody. If you like, go and find out. I don’t know what caused the fire,” she said.
The remains of the children have been deposited at a nearby morgue while their mother remains with the police as investigation into the incident continues.
•Photo shows the bereaved father, Mr. Anthony Ofomata, with two of the deceased children. Inset is his wife, Chinemerem.
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