June 5, 2018

C’River residents panic as multiple kerosene explosions wreak havoc

adulterated diesel, diesel,Army

adulterated diesel

By Emmanuel Unah

CALABAR- SERIES of kerosene explosions in Cross River Sate in recent weeks have caused indescribable disaster, leaving five persons dead and several others  battling for their dear lives at health institutions in the state.

File: A 33,000 litres tanker fully laden with kerosene 

Nine of  the victims are lying critically ill at the General Hospital, Calabar and four are at the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, UCTH, both in Calabar, the state capital.

Family of 4, others perish

In one of the tragic incidents, a family of four, Mrs. Nseobong Uduak  (mother),  Miracle 10, Silas 3 and a two-month old baby, whose name could not be ascertained were seriously burnt,  leading to their death.

Ogolo Eke, a 21-year-old Microbiology student of the Cross River State University of Technology, who was rushed to private hospital for burns suffered on her face and chest in an explosion, could not make it.

Hardly a week passes without two or more cases of kerosene explosions in Calabar and other areas of the state caused chiefly by adulterated kerosene.

The two-bedroom apartment occupied by Mrs. Uduak and her family was also razed and property worth millions of naira destroyed. Rachael Akpan, who witnessed the incident that razed  Uduak’s rented apartment, blamed it on adulterated kerosene, which ignited as one of the deceased’s children, Miracle, was about filling the lantern with kerosene.

How my husband was burnt – Wife

In another incident, Emane, wife of Michael Eze, who also lives at 8 Miles, Calabar, asserted: “I bought the kerosene at a petrol station and had been using it until penultimate Sunday morning. I used the kerosene last in February to cook beans, but at about 5.00 am on Sunday, last week, the kerosene in our lamp ran out and my husband refilled it with the kerosene and when he tried to light it again, an explosion occurred. He was caught in the fire that resulted from the explosion.”

We would have been burnt to ashes – Victims

Another victim, a middle-aged lady, Precious, lying at the female ward of General Hospital, Calabar with severe burns all over her body,  said her lantern was about to go off in the night and she tried to refill it,  there was an explosion and her whole body was caught in the fire.

“I tried to put out the fire but the more I tried, the more the fire increased,  so I shouted and people came in and dragged me out of the house, I would have burnt to ashes,” she bemoaned.

“I bought the kerosene from a shop along the street that I live in Calabar South and there have been other cases like this within the neighbourhood,” she added.

A different victim, Rose, who lay on the bed opposite Precious,  said she was trying to refill her stove while pouring water for the children to bathe and go to school when the stove exploded, caught and engulfed her in a bowl of fire.

Rose whose face, breast region and belly were burnt, said: “If not for the timely intervention of neighbours, l would have been burnt to ashes.”

The elderly lady brought in from Akamkpa was still unconscious when NDV visited, but occasionally she would open her eyes after a hard effort and shut them again.

On another bed was a 10-year-old boy, Goodluck who said the lantern exploded and he got burnt in his far away village of Anineje and he has been in the hospital for over three weeks.

His legs were covered in plaster of paris, PoP, and reportedly healing gradually.

Fire Service boss blames greedy traders

Mr Donatus Ugbe, the Director of the Cross River Fire Service, attributed the explosions to adulteration of kerosene with fuel, which has become cheaper.

“A litre of fuel sells for 145.00 while kerosene sells for N250.00, so it is easy for people to mix kerosene with fuel to make more money,” he said.

Govt to pick victims’ medical bill

Cross River State Commissioner for Health, Inyang Asibong and Director- General of the Primary Health Care Development Agency, Betta Edu, who visited the victims, called on the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, to checkmate the increase in adulteration of petroleum products, particularly kerosene.

They assured that government would take over medical bills of victims and take those critically affected to intensive care of tertiary medical institutions.