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18 Jul 2017

Calabar tank farm explosion: Death toll rises

The death toll in the fire outbreak that occurred at Linc Oil and Gas depot in Calabar, Cross River State, at around 4am on Sunday has increased from nine to 11.

The state Commissioner of Police, Hafiz Inuwa, had on Sunday confirmed that nine persons died.

But at the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital on Monday, PUNCH Metro learnt that the death toll had risen to 11, while seven persons were receiving treatment at the hospital.

The Chief Medical Director of the UCTH, Prof. Thomas Agan, said nine persons were brought to the hospital in the early hours of Sunday, shortly after the inferno.

He said, “The incident is quite unfortunate. The immediate and remote causes of the fire has yet to be known.

“We admitted a total of nine victims. Seven were admitted into our 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 (Monday).

“Right now, we have seven patients with burns in our custody and they are receiving treatment. The challenge we have is that they were brought in as ordered by the Federal Government. We had to use all we had to ensure that they were kept alive. Our consumables are exhausted.”

He said having patients with 60 to 90 per cent burns was not an easy situation.

Agan said apart from the state Commissioner of Police and other security agencies that had come to visit the victims, no person had shown interest in footing their medical bills.

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

One of the victims, Mr. Asuquo Okon, said he was looking up to God for survival, appealing to concerned individuals to come to his aid.

 When our correspondent visited the scene of the incident, it was observed that business activities had yet to commence.

The two vehicles that were burnt during the explosion were still there.

The state Commissioner for Petroleum, Mr. Itaya Nyong, said the state government would carry out a thorough investigation into the remote and immediate causes of the incident.

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

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