BY BOSE ADELAJA, MONSURU OLOWOOPEJO & ESTHER ONYEGBULA
LAGOS—THERE was palpable anxiety among parents and guardians in the Ogba axis of Lagos metropolis Thursday, after 13 students of Ogba Junior Grammah School, Ogba, Ojodu Local Council Development Area, LCDA, collapsed after inhaling an unidentified poisonous fumes discharged from one of the cottage factories in Ogba Shopping Arcade.
This came four months after 25 of the students of the same school collapsed after inhaling an unidentified chemical waste discharged into drainage by a Photo Laboratory, situated in the Shopping Arcade.
When Vanguard visited the school, the management and staff were wondering which company would have discharged such hazardous fumes this time around.
Also, our correspondent observed that parents of the students raced to the scene to verify the condition of their children. While those whose children weren’t affected by the emission rushed them back home, some were also sighted wailing over the ugly incident.
Mr. Oladokun, the father of one of the victims, who rushed to the scene immediately he heard of the incident, said: “I was in the office when my wife called me that my daughter, who is in JSS 3 was also affected.”
The incidents was said to have occurred at about 12:40 pm while the students were still in their classes.
Vanguard gathered that the leak of the dangerous gas was least expected as it enveloped the premises making the victims unconscious.
Officials of the National Emergency management Agency, NEMA and its Lagos state counterpart, LASEMA and the Lagos State Environmental Health Monitoring Unit, SEHMU arrived the scene and rushed the unconscious victims to the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, LASUTH, Ikeja for treatment.
Of the 13 affected students, one was a male while the rest were females. Vanguard investigation revealed that one of the students was in critical condition and has been admitted at the Intensive Care Unit.
Some of the affected students were: Tijani Mariam, Subaidat Oladokun, Adebiyi Taiwo, Muiz Rodiat, Ogunbami Omolade, Onaigbe Blessing, Karimat Akiode, Rasak Gbolahan and Modupe Idowu.
Vanguard learnt that although the company responsible for discharging the chemical was yet to be identified, the state government has shut the school and the shopping complex indefinitely.
Mr. John Joshua, one of the traders in the arcade, said: “I was outside waiting for someone. Suddenly, me and my friends, who were standing beside me, inhaled the chemical immediately it was discharged. It maybe from the complex or outside since this is an industrial area.
“Immediately, I developed difficulty in breathing. At this moment, I am still struggling to breath.”
On the closure of the arcade, Mrs. Tina Ikechukwu, who is an occupant said: “I am happy because if the arcade wasn’t shut, maybe the number of causalities would have increased.”
Victims responding to treatment — LASEMA
Apart from confirming the accident, General Manager of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, LASEMA, Dr. Femi Oke-Osanyintolu said the 13 affected students were admitted at the LASUTH and are responding to treatment, saying that the rescue operation was swift and prompt.
He said: “They are responding to treatment very well, but however, we have condoned off the school and the building associated with that area. Why we are doing that is to allow us carry out risk assessment and analysis on the place. We are appealing to our people not to panic that the state is on top of the challenges.
School, arcade shut indefinitely
NEMA information officer, Mr. Ibrahim Farinloye and the Council Chairman, Mr. Julius Oloro said that the school and the shopping arcade have been shut.
Oloro said: “Until the experts are through with their investigation no one will be able to gain access into both premises. And that was why we have asked the traders and the pupils to go home because there presence will halt the investigation.”
Ibrahim Farinloye, South West information officer of the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA said: “We have commenced the investigation to know the source of the emission. Since the waste was discharged last year and today (yesterday) another chemical waste have been discharged, there is need for proper investigation.”