Four people have died after an adulterated kerosene exploded in Ikot Ekpo community, near Calabar, the Cross River State capital.
It was gathered that the kerosene was being poured into a lantern when it exploded, killing a 45-year-old man, Esuabana Thomas Okon, and two of his children – Okon Esua Thomas aged 14 and Edet Esua Thomas, 12 – on Monday night.
Okon’s an in-law, identified as Mathias, also died in the explosion.
The victims were said to be indigenes of Ukwa Eburutu in Odukpani local government of the state.
News Central gathered that Okon’s wife and daughter survived the inferno.
The deceased’s landlord, one Engineer Efiom Offiong Efanga, said he was not at home when the incident happened.
He said he was yet to pack into his own apartment which is yet to be completed, and that an eyewitness drew his attention to the incident at about 10 pm.
“I had a call at 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 seems 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 dead body was brought back. The only survivor among the children is the daughter. I met her in that church close to my compound, very frightened.
“She told me that the mum asked the elderly brother to refuel the lantern but the boy refused and went inside, and that after some minute, 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 easing herself when the explosion occurred,” he said in a The Punch report.
A relative to the Esuabanas, Mr Samuel Inyang, said the explosion happened at about 9.30pm and described the incident as mysterious.
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.”
He alleged that the kerosene may have been adulterated, and appealed to government agencies to stop illegal petroleum bunkering which he said encouraged dealers to mix all types of things with kerosene.
“Bunkering kerosene is believed to be responsible for all these explosions. Government should rise to the occasion and save the lives of Nigerians,” he said.
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