The Commissioner of Police (CP) in Ebonyi, Mr. Philip Maku, has ordered a full investigation into the fire outbreak that left no fewer than five persons dead on New Year.
Mrs. Loveth Odah, Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) in Ebonyi, said this to newsmen on Sunday in Abakaliki.
She said that the CP was devastated by the tragic incident that left many dead, including a three-year-old baby.
“The commissioner of police has ordered a discreet investigation into the incident to ascertain the actual cause of the fire outbreak.
“We do not believe that someone can fire a cannon all in the name of celebrating the New Year because even during traditional burials, we normally approve before cannons can be fired.
“So, this time around, we were not aware that the man wanted to fire a cannon, it’s unusual and sees what great disaster it has caused.
“The CP has, therefore, directed that full-scale investigation should be carried out to find out why such tragic incident should happen when people were celebrating the New Year,” she said.
The police spokesperson, however, said that the number of casualties from the incident had risen from one to five persons.
“Four additional deaths were recorded from among those rushed to the hospital for treatment while the other survivors are still receiving medical attention at the hospital,” Odah added.
Meanwhile, Dr. Nelson Ogbaeja, an indigene of Akaeze and one of those involved in the rescue operation, told NAN that seven of the victims taken to hospital had died.
Ogbaeja added that one of the survivors was in a critical condition, having sustained first-degree burns.
The fire incident occurred around 8 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 1, in Mr. Ogenyi Chukwu’s residence in Iyioji, Akaeze community.
The fire allegedly broke out when a cannon ‘Nkpolali’ loaded with gun powder in the house, had contact with fire.
Chukwu said their children and 11 other relatives were seeing a movie in the house when suddenly the cannon exploded and fire engulfed the entire house leading to pandemonium.
Reacting over the incident, Chairman, Ivo Local Government Area, Chief Onyebuchi Ogbadu, commiserated with families of the victims.
He said that the council would do everything within its powers to ensure that survivors were given the best medical attention.
Ogbadu described the incident as ‘tragic’ and prayed for the repose of the souls of those lost in the inferno.