Thursday, July 28, 2011
Enugu Tanker Fire: Six Burnt To Death, 20 Houses Destroyed!
SIX lives, about 20 houses, household property and goods worth millions of naira were lost in the fire outbreak that occurred following a fuel tanker accident in Enugu Thursday morning.
The loud explosion from the tanker fire caused panic among residents of the area including those in Udi Siding and inmates of the Enugu Prisons who feared that it could be a bomb.
Sources said some inmates on Awaiting Trial were said to have ran to different directions in the prison yard thinking that the wall had collapsed but they were disappointed when they discovered that the loud noise and the ensuing inferno came from outside the prison.
In a swift reaction to the fire outbreak, Governor Sullivan Chime, yesterday, ordered that all illegal structures in the state capital be pulled down and removed within two weeks just as he commiserated with the victims.
The tanker with registration number Lagos KT 968 JJJ belonging to Shorelink Oil and Gas Services Limited, Port-Harcourt, Rivers State fell while negotiating the Central Police Station, CPS roundabout in front of the Nigeria Prisons, Enugu at about 7. 05am.
Soon after it fell, the 33,000 litres of petrol which it conveyed was discharged through a gutter that ran from the Nigeria Prisons through the police barracks and part of Ogbete Main Market consuming several household items, vehicles, wares and livestock. The disaster has, however, rendered several families homeless.
Among the property completely razed by the inferno were six block of houses in the Prisons barrack, five houses in CPS barrack, seven vehicles including the fuel tanker, two motorcycles, five goats, about 20 shops containing different types of goods along the Railway Line in Ogbete market, furniture and other household appliances belonging to warders and policemen living in the affected barracks.
An eyewitness, Mr. Ndubuisi Ota from Abia State who clamed to have raised the alarm that saved many of the residents, narrated the incident to Vanguard at the scene while the rescue operation was still in progress yesterday.
"The tanker driver was coming from New Market area when on getting to the CPS/Prison roundabout I saw him struggling with the steering in an attempt to negotiate the roundabout to continue his journey towards the Old Park, but in the process he climbed a stone and fell flat on the ground.
"Immediately it fell, the fuel in the tanker started spilling into the barrack. Sensing danger, I rushed into the barrack shouting – this is fuel; this is fire, to see if I could save many souls. So many people started running out of their rooms but suddenly the fuel caught fire with a loud noise like bomb.
"I was in the middle of the fire; it was only God that saved me as I escaped unhurt. I saw the driver jumping out of fallen tanker as the inferno spread towards the market area and the CPS barrack. The fire fighters came about an hour after the fire began. They tried to put out the fire but several property were destroyed. It was a terrible incident. I saw some corpses on the ground but I can't say how many people died. So many people that sustained injuries were also rushed to the hospital," ota said.
Officials of the Enugu State Fire Service, Federal Road Safety Commission, the Police and the Nigeria Civil Defence Corps, however, succeeded in putting out the fire within the Prison barrack where their equipment could reach, but before then it had caused serious havoc.
Chime orders removal of illegal structures
Deputy Governor of Enugu State, Mr. Sunday Onyebuchi who visited the scene of the fire incident yesterday, said that Governor Chime had ordered that all illegal structures in the state capital be pulled down and removed within two weeks to enable the fire fighters have easy passage in the event of such incident.
The directive followed disturbing reports that personnel of the state Fire Service who had arrived the scene after they were alerted encountered difficulties in their efforts to prevent the spread of the fire owing to illegal structures that blocked the access routes.
Speaking to reporters shortly after inspecting the incident, Mr. Sunday Onyebuchi said the government would do everything possible to minimize the damage from such tragedies in future and said destruction of illegal that hindered the movement of fire trucks was a major step in that direction.
He commiserated with the victims of the explosion and assured them that government would look into the matter and come to their aid. He also stressed that the state government would find ways to alleviate the suffering of the people.
He also commended the fire service and other paramilitary agencies in the state for their quick response to the incident while warning drivers of heavy duty vehicles in the state to apply more caution more especially when they are conveying highly inflammable goods.
The chairman Enugu North Local Government Area, Mr. Herbert Orji in his reaction described the occurrence as tragic and noted that properties worth millions were destroyed.