Over 100 people were burnt to death and over fifty wounded at a fire in Ula Okobe in Ahoada West local government area of Rivers state. The incident occurred as villagers from the community were scooping premium motor spirit that spilled after a petrol tanker tumbled over while transporting petroleum products. Eye witnesses say the tanker may have fallen around 5.00 o’clock in the early hours of Thursday July 12 but the villagers began scooping the petrol when they woke up at about 6 am. However the fire occurred between 7 and 8 am says Emeka Wogu, Rivers state commissioner for Special duties.
Visibly shaken by the incident, Rivers state Governor Chibuike Amaechi has directed that everything must be done to save the lives of as many of the wounded as possible. Doctors at the Ahoada General hospital where 32 out of the over 50 wounded people where taken say that there may still be many more casualties. Already one of those taken to the hospital had died as at the time of this report.
“We may still lose as much as 70 per cent of the victims” says Wogu whose men put out the fire and who was personally supervising emergency services along with his Local Government affairs counterpart, Sam Eyuba.
Meanwhile Governor Amaechi has ordered immediate investigations into the incident “We must stop this needless loss of lives.” Governor Amaechi said.
In October 1998 a similar incident occurred in Jesse, Delta state when hundreds villagers who were scooping petrol from a burst pipeline where burnt to death.
“We really must be more safety conscious” says Ibim Semenitari, Rivers state Commissioner of Information and Communications who decried the tragedy. Some eye witness say the fire may have been set off by a cell phone call made by one of those at the scene, while others say it may be as a result of the use of metal buckets to scoop the products. However Wogu says it may be too early to determine the cause of the fire. “let us await the report of the investigations ordered by His Excellency , the governor, Wogu said
Amaechi Orders Full Investigation Into Petrol Tanker Fire Incident:
Governor Chibuike Amaechi has ordered a full investigation into the Petrol Tanker fire incident at Ula-Okogbe, Ahaoda West Local Government area of the State in which several lives were lost.
”We must stop this needless loss of lives” said the Governor, who also directed that no cost must be spared to ensure the best medical attention and care for the wounded
Governor Amaechi who condoled with the families of those who lost their lives in the incident which occurred along the East west road, at Ula-Okogbe in the Ahoada West Local Government Area of the State, also expressed regret over the avoidable tragedy.
The governor commended the members of the public who assisted in the rescue operations as well as the federal and state agencies involved in the rescue operations.
He also advised that people of the State to always be safety conscious as nothing was worth the sanctity of life.