By David Odama
NO fewer than 15 persons were, yesterday, feared dead with 40 others hospitalised with various degrees of injuries following a gas explosion at Monaco Gas Station situated in the premises of Natson Petroleum Nig. Ltd., in Lafia, the capital of Nasarawa State.
It was gathered that the explosion was caused by gas leakage from one of the reservoirs at the gas station.
According to reports, two motorists, who first noticed the leakage, attempted to flee but collided and went up in flames.
About 17 vehicles, including two fuel tankers, motorcycles and three tricycles caught in the inferno, were burnt to ashes.
… at the hospital
When Vanguard visited the casualty unit of the Dalhatu Araf Specialist Hospital, DASH, Lafia, it was observed that the hospital was littered with burnt victims of the gas explosion victims, as medical personnel were seen battling to save their lives.
Sympathisers were seen trooping to the hospital for a glance at victims, who were conveyed to the hospital by officials of Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC, from the scene of the explosion.
It was further gathered that some of the victims were caught up in the inferno while plying the Lafia-Abuja Highway, especially students of the Nasarawa State Polytechnic, Lafia, who were going for lectures.
One of the survivors, Yusuf Audu, a second year Computer Science student of the state polytechnic, told Vanguard that the explosion occurred while he was waiting to board a vehicle to school.
According to Audu, “I remain grateful to God for being alive among my fellow victims.”
While expressing surprise over the incident, he called on the state government to take urgent measure to address the ugly incident.
A medical personnel at the Dalhatu Araf Specialist hospital, who spoke to newsmen on condition of anonymity, said the victims were brought in unconscious and naked.
Management of the hospital declined comment on the number of casualties brought in, when Vanguard contacted the Public Relations unit of the hospital.
Meanwhile, the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, who arrived Lafia, the state capital few hours after the gas explosion, in continuation of his consultation visits to state chapters of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, ahead of the party primaries, headed to the Lafia Specialist Hospital, where he commiserated with victims of the fire incident.
He commended the swift response of the emergency management agencies and management of the hospital and prayed for the quick recovery of the victims.
Contacted, the spokesman of Nasarawa State Police Command, Samaila Usman, said the command received a distress call on the incident, swung into action to avert possible break down of law and order.
He said the situation was under control, while investigation will be carried out to ascertain the cause, urging the public to remain calm.
We’ll ensure thorough probe, govt mours—Govt
Meanwhile, the state government has expressed shock and sadness over the gas explosion and pledged to ensure a thorough investigation is carried out on the cause, according to the Deputy Governor, Mr. Silas Agara, who spoke during an on-the-spot assessment visit to the scene.
Officials of National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA; Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC; FRSC, the Police among others, were at the scene of the incident managing the situation.
Accompanied by the state Commissioner of Police, Yahaya Bello, and Chairman Lafia Local Government Area, Mallam Aminu Muazu, Agara described the explosion as most unfortunate.
The Deputy Governor, who expressed condolences and sympathy to the victims on behalf of Governor Umaru Al-Makura, applauded the security and emergency response teams for their quick response, while advising the public to stay away from the scene to allow relevant agencies carry out their investigation.
He also visited the affected persons at the Dalhatu Araf Specialist Hospital, Lafia, where over 37 victims were currently receiving treatment.
Meanwhile, Sector Commander of FRSC Nasarawa, Mrs Faustina Alegbe, assured that the command will continue to search for other victims of the incident.