Nigeria: Indignant Reactions, As Dying Toll Rises in Onitsha Tragedy

Three extra lifeless our bodies had been recovered, yesterday, on the Ochanja Market in Onitsha, which obtained burnt when a tanker stuffed with gasoline caught hearth on the Higher Iweka space of the industrial metropolis.

This got here as Governor Willie Obiano invited the affected merchants to assemble on the Alex Ekwueme Sq., Awka on Monday for documentation and attainable help from the state authorities.

Two of the lifeless our bodies had been suspected to be salesgirls in one of many burnt retailers, whereas the opposite male physique was present in one other store near the scene of the hearth incident.

Yesterday, the merchants constituted themselves into rescue teams and had been packing the particles, solely to find the three lifeless our bodies.

A number of the merchants nearly threatened to trigger riot after they had been knowledgeable that Governor Obiano was coming to sympathize with them.

The governor, who visited the scene at about 9.20am for on the spot evaluation of the catastrophe, may nevertheless not enter the burnt market.

Commissioner for Data and Public Enlightenment, Mr. Don Adinuba, in a press release stated Governor Obiano and all the folks of Anambra State remorse the unlucky state of affairs, including that the state authorities had taken steps to deal with the considerations of these affected.

He stated: ” Authorities subsequently requests homeowners of properties affected by the tragic accident, store homeowners and relations of deceased victims to assemble at Ekwueme Sq., Awka on Monday October 21 2019 at 11am for documentation and to see how the Anambra State authorities can help them.

” A panel headed by the Deputy Governor, Dr. Nkem Okeke has been arrange by the governor to right away decide the reason for the accident, why the firemen couldn’t put out the hearth and the way the situation of the victims will be ameliorated.

“Governor Obiano and all residents of Anambra State establish with victims of this unlucky hearth incident and the final inhabitants of Onitsha over this unhappy inferno. The Anambra State authorities will do it is best to face by these affected.

“Government therefore calls on all citizens to remain calm in the face of this disaster and be reassured of government’s commitment to the well- being of all and sundry.”

He defined that safety businesses within the state had been directed to make sure that regulation and order had been maintained inside and across the affected areas.

Former member of Home of Representatives, Dr. Tony Nwoye stated it was a tragic day for Anambra State, regretting the big lack of lives and property.

He added: “I empathise with the households of the lifeless victims and people who misplaced properties to the inferno. I urge them to point out braveness and utmost religion within the Creator. The solar will nonetheless shine on all of them

“This accident has develop into too recurring in Anambra and will fear everybody. The collaboration of the federal government, related stakeholders and the residents, is required to develop a proactive technique that may forestall any additional incidence of this nature. By no means once more lets witness something similar to this.

“This is a time for us to show faith in our state and rally around the victims of the carnage. I call on Anambra people to come to the aid of the victims and collectively give them support to rebuild their businesses and overcome their grief. It is indeed a troubling time and we must have to show that brotherly spirit and love that make us Ndi Anambra at this time.”

In his response, the Director Common of Nigeria Inland Waterways Authority, NIWA, and a chieftain of All Progressives Congress, APC, Chief George Moghalu, known as on the state authorities and different influential folks within the state to return to the help of the victims.

He added: “I’m saddened on the lack of lives and we by no means want for incidents like these in our pricey state.

“I urge the Anambra State government to do what it is supposed to do to ensure that the traders continue to earn a living.”

One of many victims, Mr. Chukwuka Okeke, a neighbour to the lady who died together with her child within the hearth incident, described the tragedy as unlucky however avoidable.

In keeping with him, it was lower than twenty minutes he chatted with the lady earlier than she was consumed within the inferno.

In an emotion-laden voice, he stated: “We had been in our retailers once I obtained the decision that there was hearth incident at Iweka. Although we noticed smoke going up from a distance, no person may imagine it will lengthen to this place.

“For over three hours, we had been perceiving the scent of gasoline blended with gasoline from the tanker because it flowed by the drainage till the entire thing went up in flames.

“The woman had already rushed out of the shop with her baby when she suddenly went back. But she slipped and fell inside the gutter, which was already in flames.”

Okeke stated the lady whose husband additionally owns a store within the metropolis, had the newborn early this yr after 16 years of marriage.

“She got married in 2003 but had her first baby early this year. It’s really a tragedy,” Okeke stated.

Efforts to talk with some landlords whose homes had been burnt alongside Higher Iweka Highway proved abortive as some, who had been round had been nonetheless in deep shock and their kids couldn’t converse for them.

Certainly one of them, who managed to talk however didn’t give his title, stated he’s devastated and can’t capable of quantify what he had misplaced.

He stated: “I can’t even do any quantification of my losses and you already know my tenants additionally misplaced greately in items and home maintain objects.

“Today is not the time to speak. We are still in great shock. This incident is not because we are careless, but something that happened in far away Upper Iweka and here we are counting loss on Iweka Road.”

Different affected merchants within the incident alongside Menax, Iweka Highway and Zik Avenue by Ochanja Market Roundabout additionally declined to talk with Vanguard, saying they’re nonetheless counting losses and will be unable to offer account of what they’ve misplaced.

When Vanguard visited the Ochanja Market and Zik Avenue, indignant merchants had been seen salvaging, in pains and bitterness, some items they felt may nonetheless be helpful whereas others whose wares and retailers had been burnt utterly, had been bemoaning their losses and raining insults on all of the related authorities that might not come to their rescue.