…filling station, houses, shops burnt
At least three people lost their lives yesterday in an explosion at a gas plant in Lafia, Nasarawa State.
About 37 others were said to have sustained severe burns in the explosion which occurred about 10a.m.
Some vehicles and tricycles conveying passengers along Jos road were hit by flames of the fire while people scampered into safety.
Witnesses said the casualty figure was more but no official was willing to speak on the number of the dead.
The plant, Monaco Gas Plant, is located inside a filling station, Natson Filling Station, on Jos Road, Lafia.
The filling station also went up in flames.
The incident attracted residents of Lafia metropolis, who trooped out to catch a glimpse of the incident.
Men of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) and those of the fire service were evacuating victims when our correspondent visited the plant.
A witness said the explosion occurred when workers were offloading gas into the commercial gas plant.
The witness said the fire spread to some nearby shops and offices.
A commercial motorcyclist popularly called an Okada rider, who escaped the explosion, told our correspondent that he escaped narrowly but the fire caught the passenger he was carrying.
However, according to him, the passenger succeeded in removing his clothes and escaped with minor injury.
Another survivor, who gave his name as Musa, said “only God knows the number of persons that died in that explosion. I saw a bus burning with passengers inside. Some were rolling on the ground, trying to escape but they were not lucky. They were all burnt.’’
Musa blamed the incident on the operator of the gas plant and negligence on the part of the state government to check the indiscriminate location of hazardous businesses in the heart of the town.
He called on government to assist victims of the explosion in various hospitals as they were in severe pains.
Musa also called on relevant authorities to relocate such business outfits on the outskirts of the metropolis to forestall future occurrence.
Meanwhile, efforts to get the actual number of casualties from the Public Relations Officer of Dalhatu Araf Specialist Hospital, Lafia, Daborah Dangara, where the victims of the gas explosion were rushed to for treatment, were unsuccessful as she refused to respond to enquiries.
But an official of the hospital, who craved anonymity, told our correspondent that the health facility received three bodies and 37 others who were injured.
Also, the state FRSC Sector Commander, Fustina Alegbe, confirmed the incident in a telephone interview.
Alegbe, however, said only two persons died in the incident while 37 were injured.
This came as the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has commiserated with the people of the state, particularly the families of victims.
Saraki, who cut short his visit to the state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), was at the Dalhatu Specialist Hospital to sympathise with the victims.
He said that despite the party differences, as a leader and a Nigerian citizen, it became important for him to identify with the people during disasters like this.
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