more people might have died as many others are feared missing, while
those who sustained several degrees of injuries were taken to the
University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTH) treatment.
zone, and the Esuk Utan community which were seriously affected by the
inferno, attributed it to the activities of illegal oil bunkerers who
were syphoning petrol from one of the facilities of one of the numerous
tank farms located in the CFTZ.
that events leading to the fire incident started at about 2a.m., some
moments after a vessel loaded with petrol was discharging the product
into the tank farm from a distance of about one kilometre from the
nearby Calabar River where it berthed.
affected company that owns the tank who pleaded not to be mentioned,
disclosed that it was while the vessel was discharging the product that
one of their staff identified as Sunny, connected a valve to the pipe
supplying fuel to the tank farm in a desperate attempt to siphon petrol.
luck, however, ran against the said Sunny as the pressure from the spot
where he had punctured became forceful to the extent that he was knocked
down by petrol which was gushing out uncontrollably.
that the product which started flowing freely, filled the premises of
the tank farm, and spilled over into the gutters, the river where the
vessel docked, and the neighboring Esuk Utan community, which is the
host community of the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), and the CFTZ
that some members of the community who were awaken by the strong fumes
of the petrol on realising that it was petrol that had flowed into the
gutters started scooping until about 4a.m. when there was a sudden spark
and the whole place was engulfed with fire.
believed to have died on the spot at Esuk Utan, while the raging fire
spread to other places and wreaked serious destruction to more lives and
use of sophisticated fire-fighting equipment, the raging fire which was
heading towards the vessel was put off by the men on board it.
tank farm where the incident started was gutted by fire, firefighters
at the CFTZ fought gallantly, using sophisticated equipment, to put it
off before it could spread to other tank farm, and perhaps the entire
zone, which plays host to the many companies.
fishing settlement close to the river was not spared as seven persons
who were residing there were said to have been burnt to death, just as
the many engine and wooden boats were completely razed.
hectic time for journalists who rushed to the scene of the incident, as
the entire area had been cordoned off, it was gathered that when final
stock is taken the death toll would be nothing less than 30.
the tank farms in the area who spoke in this context, but pleaded not to
be mention, said what happened resulted from illegal siphoning of
“Almost 30 people that we have been able to confirm have died. So many
have severe injuries and have been rushed to the hospital. I saw someone
whose entire legs had melted in the fire. It was only his bones that
were sticking out. I do not know if he would survive. It was very
horrible. There was fire everywhere. Nobody knew where they would run
to. Many other companies in this vicinity, and even inside the NPA have
had one equipment or the other affected by the fire. The truth is that
they were doing an illegal business there that is why there was no
safety measure. In fact, there was no safety measure at all that is why
the situation got out of hand. If it was a normal operation, I believe
it could have been contained easily. It is something they have been
doing all the time, but today was bad luck for them.
fire incident, the state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Hafiz Inuwa, said
the police can only confirm that seven persons died while nine sustained
various degrees of injuries.
policeman were on ground there when the fire was raging, and they helped
to extinguish the raging fire, and also cordoned the area to stop
hoodlums, and other criminals from taking advantage of the situation to
who suspected foul play, said there might have been some form of
conspiracy to siphon the petrol from one of the affected tank farm.
police had already commenced thorough investigation into the remote and
immediate cause of the fire incident and promised that any person found
culpable will be made to face the law.