At least four people lost their lives when adulterated kerosene exploded in Cross River State. The incident occurred on Monday night at Ikot Ekpo community, Calabar. The victims were a 45-yearold man, his two sons and an in-law.
They were identified as Esuabana Thomas Okon (father), Okon Esua Thomas (14) and 12-year-old Edet Esua Thomas (children) as well as Mathias (in-law). The victims were indigenes of Ukwa Eburutu in Odukpani Local Government Area of the state. Their landlord, Mr. Efiom Offiong Efanfa (an engineer), and a relation, Mr. Samuel Inyang, told New Telegraph that Esuabana’s wife and daughter survived the inferno.
Efanga said he was not at home when the incident occurred since he was yet to pack into his part of the apartment which, according to him, is yet to be completed.
The landlord said a witness informed him of the explosion about 10pm. He said: “I had a call about a minute to 10 O’clock that there was a fire outbreak in my compound, so I had to rush down here.
By the time I got here, the neighbours had succeeded in putting out the fire but they did not know initially that people had actually been burnt inside because it seemed there were no screams. “It was after the fire was extinguished that we discovered three persons inside, who were already dead.
“Another victim, who was also fatally burnt, was rushed to the hospital but he gave up the ghost on the way and so his body was brought back. “The only survivor among the children is the daughter. I met her in that church close to my compound. She was very frightened.
“She told me that the mum asked her elder brother to refuel the lantern but the boy refused and went inside, and that after some minutes, the mum decided to send her to refuel the lantern and that as soon as she poured the kerosene into the already lit but dim lantern, there was a huge explosion, so she threw the lantern away and ran out.
“She said the mother was outside in the convenience at the time the explosion occurred.” On his part, the relation of the victims, Inyang, said the explosion occurred about 9.30pm. He described the incident as mysterious. Inyang added that what surprised everyone was how the girl could run out while his father and the other three could not, even when the door was open.
He said: “The incident happened in the kitchen. The four persons who died were in the room but we cannot explain why they could not run out of the door. How can our kerosene be exploding like bombs? It is a mystery that the door was opened but our brother and his children and in-law could not escape.
“The fire incident started in the kitchen, not the room, and they had every opportunity to have escaped but they could not. It is a mystery.”
Inyang suspected that the kerosene might have been adulterated. Inyang appealed to relevant government agencies to intensify efforts at bringing to an end the case of petroleum bunkering which he said encouraged dealers to mix all types of things with kerosene.
He said: “Bunkering kerosene is believed to be responsible for all these explosions. Government should rise to the occasion and save the lives of Nigerians.”