Calabar fire death toll now 11

The death in the fire at the Linc Oil and Gas tank farm in the Calabar free trade zone facility on Sunday is now 11.

Commissioner of Police Hafiz Inuwa, on Sunday confirmed that nine persons died as a result of the inferno.

The Chief Medical Director of UCTH, Prof. Thomas Agan, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the hospital admitted nine persons shortly after the tragic incident.

“We admitted nine patients. Seven of them in the burns ward and the other two who had severe threatening conditions were taken into the Intensive Care Unit.

“Unfortunately, those two gave up the ghost this morning. Right now, we have seven patients with burns in our custody and they are receiving treatment.

“We had to use all we had to ensure that they are kept alive. Our consumables are now exhausted,” he said.

According to him, the cost of having patients with 60-90 degrees burns in the hospital was expensive.

“We need massive assistance, not only from the federal government, but from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and all the facilities involved in this matter,” he said.

One of the victims, Mr Asuquo Okon, told NAN that he was looking up to God for survival and appealed for assistance from individuals and organisations.

When NAN correspondent visited the scene of the incidence, the two vehicles burnt to ashes during the explosion were yet to be evacuated.

The state Commissioner for Petroleum, Mr Itaya Nyong, told NAN that the state would conduct a thorough investigation on the remote and immediate causes of the incident.

“We intends to embark on an investigation, and at the appropriate time, the machinery will be put in motion to assess the level of damage and establish culpability and certainly take action from there,” he said.

The Managing Director of the Nigeria Export Processing Zone Authority (NEPZA), Mr Emmanuel Jime, yesterday donated N2 million for the treatment of survivors of the Calabar tank farm fire incident that occurred on Sunday, at the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTH).

Jime, who visited the victims yesterday, lauded the hospital for their effort to keep the survivors alive.

“In the face of daunting challenges this hospital has done well by rising to the occasion and so far lives have been saved. So far we have lost 10 lives already. Others are still in a bad shape but because of the professionalism on display by this hospital, we are prayerful and hopeful we can save lives. As an authority there’s little we can do, but we have decided we would extend a token of support so that as much as possible some of the materials required can be taken care of. So as we leave I have directed the Head of the Calabar Free Trade Zone to initiate the process of raising some funding. At present time, we believe we can offer N2 million to support what is going on here. We would keep liaising with them and talking. Our desire is to see that the seven who are still left are able to go back home to their loved ones and to their family,” he said.

He said an investigation would be launched and if anyone is found culpable would be sanctioned according to the law by NEPZA.

The management and board of the Nigerian Ports Authority commiserated with the Cross River State government and families of people who died in the fire.

A statement by Principal Manager, Public Affairs Ibrahim Nasiru said: “The Authority has commenced an investigation into the sad event with the aim of working with other organisations to prevent a recurrence of such events anytime in the future.

“As part of the measures to forestall future occurrence the Authority has been in touch with the Cross River State government on the urgent serious safety concerns over Esuk-Utan Beach residences right in the middle of an industrial area.

“We want to reiterate our commitment to the safety of all customers, operators and agencies within our facilities nationwide.

“We also commend the courageous effort of the NPA and Calabar free trade zone firemen, who put their lives on the line to prevent the spread of the terrible inferno. This is addition to the deployment of our Tug Boat MV Zaria that provided support from the waterfront.

“The NPA wishes people who sustained injuries from this incident speedy recovery as we pray for the repose of the souls of the dead.”

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) advised consumers of petroleum products across the country not to engage in panic buying as a result of the fire.

In its yesterday statement, the corporation said:“NNPC wishes to assure that the unfortunate fire incident at a private tank farm had not affected its operations, and that the Corporation’s stock holding was robust.

“NNPC has over 40 day-sufficiency for petrol, and adequate volumes of diesel and kerosene to meet consumers’ demand nationwide, therefore it is pointless to engage in panic buying.”

NNPC Group Managing Director Dr. Maikanti Baru, who received briefs on the incidents, expressed regrets over the unfortunate loss of life in the inferno.

The GMD consoled the families of those who lost their loved ones in the incident, advising communities in areas of oil and gas operations to always exercise caution and be vigilant at all times.

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