Building collapse kills 4 as 20 injure in Onitsha market explosion

Building collapse kills 4 as 20 injure in Onitsha market explosion

…the explosion collapsed the building

Four persons were feared dead while twenty were injured following chemical explosion from one of the shops along Progressive Science Union line, Bridgehead market, Onitsha, Anambra State.

Over #850 million was said to have been destroyed alongside several shops in the process. when chemical explosion emanated from one of the shops along Progressive Science Union line, Bridgehead market, Onitsha, Anambra State.

The incident which occurred around 12.45pm reportedly led to stampede as traders scampered for safety.

According to one of the traders, Nweke Uchenna, “We were at our shops as usual when we heard a loud noise like a bomb blast and we saw thick smoke from some shops upstairs and everyone started running for safety.

“As some others shouted for help, we saw people carrying bodies from those shops on fire and some were badly burnt while some seem to have suffocated from the smoke and the stampede.

“We don’t know how much have been lost to the fire but it can be estimated around N850 million to about N1billion because the goods are strong chemical products that are highly inflamable.”

Reacting, Chairman of the market, Hon. Chinedu Ezekwike, told newsmen that it emanated from one of the chemical shops along Progressive Science Union line.

He said, “The chemical explosion that started from one of the shops even collapsed the building and on the process sent four to their untimely death. We still want the fire to cool so that we find out from the debris if there are more deaths, but scores were injured, about 20.

“The explosion caused thick smoke and used iron and stones from the shop where it exploded from, to hit some people also. We fear the casulty figure may increase.

Building collapse kills 4 as 20 injure in Onitsha market explosion 1

“As you can see we are putting up efforts to protect the market from the fire and two trucks of the fire service men are fighting and have succeeded in putting off the fire.”

Member of the Caretaker Committee of the market, Comrade Peter Okala, while lamenting the death recorded in the incident, stressed the need for those who have knowledge of chemical substances to be dealers of such.

He regretted that most traders who deal in chemical products in the market do not know how to handle them, just as he accused immediate past regime of the market led by Chief Sunday Obinze, of not procuring fire fighting trucks for the market despite huge amount generated in the market.

“If the former executive of the market led by Chief Sunday Obinze, had procured fire fighting trucks, it would have helped in a situation like this. Unfortunately, the huge sum they generated went to their private pockets”, he stated.

On his part, Chairman, Onitsha South Local Government Area, Mr Emeka Orji who stormed the area with members of his staff on hearing the news, contacted state Fire Service Chief, Martin Agbili who deployed his men that battled the fire in collaboration with their counterparts from Asaba, Delta State.

Orji also contacted Divisional Police Officer, Fegge, Rabiu Garuba who deployed officers and men to guarantee security of goods belonging to the traders.

Describing the incident as unfortunate, Orji regretted that the decongested market almost made it difficult for fire fighters to put out the fire.

“We are happy that the Anambra state Fire Service came on time to prevent the inferno from spreading.

“Our proactive measures about fire outbreak also paid off because we had put in place fire fighting gadgets in some lines and that was what the traders and market task force team were using to fight the fire before the arrival of the state Fire Service,” he said.

Orji who noted that the number of casualties could not be ascertained, however expressed joy that the injured who were rushed to nearby medical facilities were responding to treatment.

Director, Fire Service in the State, Engr. Martin Agbili who confirmed the fire incident, said the fire affected a section of the market.

“The cause of the fire and extent of damages are yet to be ascertained, but my men are currently at the scene battling the fire,” he added.

Police Public Relations Officer, Tochukwu Ikenga who also confirmed the incident said the situation is under control. 

“The deputy commissioner in charge of operation is currently there and the fire service operatives are also on ground.

“Further details shall be communicated please,”

As at the time of filling this report, the market has been deserted as traders fled for their safety even as security operatives barricaded the market to avoid looting of traders’ wares.

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