Black Friday | Independent Newspapers Nigeria

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    <p class="p1"><span class="s1"><b>Gbenga Abegunrin and Suzan Edeh</b></span></p>

IBADAN, Bauchi – At least 16 persons were confirmed dead and several others injured on Friday, in a pipeline explosion in Umuaduru Village in Umueze Autonomous Community, in Abia State, while three others died in a separate fire incident that occurred in a private residence at Umuimo village in the area.

The Abia state Commander of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Mr Benito Eze, confirmed the number of casualties to newsmen in Umuahia.

Eze said that 16 persons, including one woman, died in the explosion that occurred around 2.47 a.m at Umuaduru Village in Umueze Autonomous Community.

He also said that three others died in the fire that occurred at about 3 a.m in a private residence at Umuimo Village in the area.

Narrating the incident, Eze, who said that he visited the scene around 4 a.m., described the incident as unfortunate.

He said that the Umuaduru incident happened when some youths in the area where scooping petroleum products from vandalised pipelines.

He said, “I learnt that they were scooping petroleum products when a spark occurred, leading to an explosion that left 16 natives dead.”

Eze further said that the fire at Umuimo happened when a woman, identified as a food vendor, got up at about 3 a.m. to start cooking for the day’s business.

“I gathered that the family stored petrol in the house and that it caught fire when the woman wanted to set up fire for cooking.

“The fire razed down the whole house but the woman and her husband did not die but managed to escape with burns,” he said.

The civil defence boss said that the couple had been taken to a hospital for medical attention.

Three military personnel were among the deceased.

Eze, however, declined confirmation, saying that “investigations are still ongoing to ascertain whether they were among or not.”

He said that the command had deployed its personnel to cordon off the scene to forestall more casualties. The fire was later put out by men of the state fire service.

When NAN visited the scene of the explosion, the charred remains of the deceased persons had all been removed by their relations for burial.

Chief Thomas Onyekwere, the Traditional Prime Minister of Umueze autonomous community, said that the community was mourning their loved ones who died in the fire.

Onyekwere described the incident as painful, saying that he lost two of his close relations.

Also speaking at the scene, Chief Kennedy Njoku, representing Osisioma Constituency in the Abia State House of Assembly, said that he was saddened by the unfortunate incident.

Njoku, who said that he came to the scene to see things for himself.

“It is a black Friday,” he said, adding that it was unimaginable that people could take such a big risk to make economic gain.

He said that the incident could have been averted if the security operatives deployed for surveillance along the pipelines “were alive to their duty.”

Meanwhile, 18 persons died while two others sustained injuries in a lone accident involving a Hilux Pickup vehicle in Yautare village of  Darazo Local Government area of Bauchi State on Friday.

Mr Paul Gua, the Bauchi State Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Sector Head of Operation, confirmed the incident to Daily Independent at his office in Bauchi.

Mr Gua said that the Hilux Pickup with registration number DRZ 716 XA had a tyre-burst while on top speed which resulted in the accident.

He stated that 20 adult males were in the vehicle when the accident happened at about 12.30 pm, saying that 16 persons died on the spot while two other persons later died at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC) in Azare town while receiving treatment.

“The commercial vehicle which was conveying 20 passengers skipped off the road and lost control as a result of the tyre that busted. The vehicle ran into the bush as it hit several trees and rock formations and in the process, many of the victims lost their lives and sustained fatal injuries”

“The other two persons are at a very critical condition. They were transferred from the Federal Medical Centre, Azare to the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Teaching Hospital Bauchi, where they are currently receiving treatment,” he said.

The FRSC Head of Operation said that the corpse of the deceased persons had been deposited at the Federal Medical Centre, Azare mortuary, while the vehicle had been evacuated by the officers of the command.

In Ibadan, Oyo State capital, on Friday, a petrol tanker crushed an infant, her mother, and a commercial tricycle operator.

The accident occurred at Ring Road area of Ibadan.

The fuel laden tanker reportedly lost control and rammed into the people.

The nursing mother and her baby were reportedly going to Apata area of the city when they met their untimely death.

Daily INDEPENDENT gathered that the accident was as a result of brake failure.

Eyewitness accounts had it that the driver in order to avoid running into other vehicles, decided to make a detour into a lay-by where it hit the victims who died immediately.

The crowd of sympathisers, who immediately after the accident besieged the scene attempted  to seize the driver and burn the vehicle.

It took the timely intervention of policemen before the irate crowd was prevented from setting both the truck and its driver ablaze.

Adekunle Ajisebutu, the Police Public Relations Officer, Oyo State Command, confirmed the accident.

Ajisebutu, however, maintained that the actual number of victims of the accident was yet to be ascertained.

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