Fire ravages Port-Harcourt

Channels Television  
Updated July 21, 2012

Series of fire outbreak and explosions  ravaged different parts of Port Harcourt, the Rivers state capital on Friday, claiming yet to be confirmed number of lives.

The first incident happened after a barge carrying fuel exploded at the Abuloma jetty.

The blast at Abuloma occurred about 9.30AM and it is reported to have occurred as a result of the maintenance work being carried out in the vessel by welders.

A resident of Abuloma, Mr. James Israel, who witnessed the incident, told a news agency that “the welders were trying to seal an opening to block a leakage on the deck of the vessel’s fuel tank and in the process, the vessel exploded.”

“The welders died, but we cannot ascertain how many people died inside the vessel,” Israel added.

Atali on Rumuokwurusi-Igwuruta road in the oil-rich state was also engulfed by massive fumes on the same day after officers of the Joint Task Force (JTF) in the state, set five tankers, suspected to be loaded with illegally refined oil ablaze.

The JTF officers impounded the tankers in the area on Thursday night after which the tankers were driven into the bush in Agali, where they were set ablaze.

Spokesperson for the JTF, Operation Pulo Shield, Captain Sunday Samuel, said the tankers were involved in illegal bunkering, adding that the mandate of the JTF was to destroy products seized from illegal bunkerers.”

The Captain further added that six people were arrested as the tankers were impounded, adding that the suspects would be handed over to appropriate authorities for further investigation and prosecution.

Spokesman for the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said the agency has mobilised first responders to both scenes to put out the fire.

Another inferno was recorded at the building of the Rivers State Newspaper Corporation where property worth millions of Naira was destroyed as fire gutted the second floor of The Tide Newspaper building, on Ikwerre Road of the city.

Also the Engineering Department of Sliverbird Rhythm FM was razed by an early morning fire that led to the privately owned station, go off air.

The series of inferno that led to unrest in the state is coming barely a week after the state government conducted mass burial for over 100 victims that died in an oil tanker explosion.