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Victims of Onitsha tanker fire cry for help

Victims of the recent petrol tanker explosion in Onitsha, Anambra State, are still recounting their ordeals and crying for help from the government at various…

Victims of the recent petrol tanker explosion in Onitsha, Anambra State, are still recounting their ordeals and crying for help from the government at various levels and individuals. Daily Trust on Sunday spoke to some of them,

Mr Anne Arochukwu, a father of five children and victim of the ill-fated petrol tanker that exploded in Onitsha, the business hub of Anambra State recently, has cried out for help from his hospital bed.

The tanker lost control and exploded at the Upper Iweka axis of the Enugu-Onitsha expressway, destroying many shops and houses and causing severe injuries to many. Some people also lost their lives in the inferno.

Arochukwu, 38, who is currently on admission at Toronto Hospital, Onitsha, appealed to Nigerians, mostly clergymen, to pray for his quick recovery.

He said that owing to the impact of the accident, five of his children could no longer go to school. He said he was in his shop where he sold jewellery when the ugly incident occurred.

Narrating his ordeal, he said, “I heard a loud noise from outside, and by the time I came out to look at what was happening, I saw the fire burning my neighbour’s shop. I ran back to my shop to take my goods worth N800,000, but unfortunately for me, in the process, I was trapped by the inferno.

“If it had happened at night when everybody had gone home, it would have been more disastrous. There would have been more frustration, commotion and pains. Despite the carnage, however, we thank God for his mercy,’’ he said.

Another victim of the inferno, who was also at the Toronto Hospital and in pains when Daily Trust on Sunday visited, Miss Blessed Egbugwo, said she was in a bus with others at the market when she was trapped by the tanker fire. As a stylist, she had gone to the market to buy things for her business.

“I am begging Nigerians to help me in whatever capacity they can so that I can walk again. As I am speaking to you now I cannot lift my legs because of injuries. As a single young woman I don’t want my legs to be amputated, for the sake of my unborn children,’’ she pleaded.

Speaking to our correspondent on the condition of the victims, the manager of Toronto Hospital Limited, Sir Osita C. Mbelu, said they were responding to treatment and gradually recovering.

A victims of Onitsha tanker fire Incident in his hospital bed
A victims of Onitsha tanker fire Incident in his hospital bed

Asked if the Anambra State Government had in any way offset the bills of the victims, Mbelu said the management of the hospital had not received any pledge from anybody. He said that the hospital believes in taking care of patients, especially those on an emergency list, before negotiation, adding that saving lives is what is paramount to them.

Also, some of the victims of the inferno lamented they were in serious debts.

Mr. Obenta Okechukwu said he was still confused as he wasn’t able to take anything out from his shop. He, however, stated that the fire started in front of Toronto Hospital, located along the Enugu-Onitsha expressway, before spreading to their shops in a five-storey building.

“We had some inflammable goods close to the gutter where the petroleum content was flowing. That added to the explosion. As you can see, the building has been affected seriously. No human casualty was recorded here, but goods worth millions of naira were lost,” he said.

He appealed to government and individuals in the society to come to their aid so that they can begin life again.

Another victim, Mr. Ikechukwu Muohalu said, “Nothing was recovered in my shop. I had different kinds of motor batteries I just bought in Lagos. I need to feed my family, so we are begging the government at federal and state levels, as well as individuals, to come to our rescue.’’

Mr. Obinna Obu also said it was a tragedy. He is praying to God to send helpers as he is heavily indebted, adding that he didn’t know how his family would survive.

“I am currently indebted, to the tune of N4.2million worth of goods,’’ he said.

Also speaking, the chairman of the market association, Chief Paul Oliseh, promised to organise a meeting to assist affected members. He also called on Governor Willie Obiano and donor agencies to quickly help the victims.

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