Inferno Engulfs Cross River Free Trade Zone, 9 Confirmed Dead
Eyewitnesses have said about 30 persons died when an inferno from an explosion razed part of the Calabar Free Trade Zone, CFTZ, in the early hours of yesterday.
However, Police have said nine persons died in the incident, with others sustaining various degrees of burns. They added that the cause of the explosion was yet unknown.
The CFTZ in Esuk Utan community is host to several tank farms belonging to different companies, but yesterday’s fire incident reportedly emanated from LINC Oil and Gas’ tank farm as a result of what was termed negligence and sabotage by some of its staff.
An eyewitness, Mr. Ikenga Uti, disclosed that a worker, who was trying to siphon petrol from a vessel opened one of the valves, but unfortunately the gasket on the valve failed. So the pressure threw him off, with fuel flowing into the gutter.
According to Uti, “it was during the scooping of fuel from the gutter that the fire started and flowed back to LINC Oil and Gas and to Nigeria Ports Authority, NPA, where it entered a vessel loaded with PMS.
When contacted, Cross River State’s Commissioner of Police, Mr. Hafiz Inuwa, however, said nine people died in the incident. Mr. Inuwa added that several other persons, who sustained injuries, were currently being treated in one of the hospitals in Calabar.
According to him, the manager of the depot is yet to brief the Police on what led to the explosion.
He said: “Nobody has come out to tell us that this is what caused the fire outbreak. We have gone round, we have done what we can, but investigation will later reveal what actually led to the explosion.
“For now, nine people are confirmed dead and many others, who sustained burns, are currently receiving treatment in one of the hospitals around town.”
Officials of Cross State Emergency Management Agency, SEMA, were on ground to assess the extent of damages caused by the explosion.
Source: Vanguard Newspaper