Senegal’s President Fires Health Minister After Hospital Fire Killed 11 Babies

Senegal's President Macky Sall gives a press conference on the second day of a European Union (EU) African Union (AU) summit at The European Council Building in Brussels on February 18, 2022. JOHN THYS / POOL / AFP
In this file photo, Senegal’s President Macky Sall gives a press conference on the second day of a European Union (EU) African Union (AU) summit at The European Council Building in Brussels on February 18, 2022. JOHN THYS / POOL / AFP

 

Senegal’s President Macky Sall fired his health minister on Thursday as his country mourned the death of 11 newborn babies in a hospital fire blamed on an electrical short circuit.

The tragedy late Wednesday in the western city of Tivaouane was just the latest in a series of hospital deaths that have exposed the weaknesses of the nation’s healthcare system.

Sall earlier announced the tragedy on Twitter and declared three days of national mourning.

“I have just learned with pain and dismay about the deaths of 11 newborn babies in the fire at the neonatal department of the public hospital,” he wrote.

“To their mothers and their families, I express my deepest sympathy.”

READ ALSO: Six Senegalese Midwives Charged Over Pregnant Woman’s Death

Outside the Mame Abdou Aziz Sy Dabakh Hospital in Tivaouane, a city with a population of 40,000, one of the distraught mothers called out for her son.

“Where is Mohamed?” she cried.

Her baby son was taken to the hospital 10 days ago and was baptised on Monday, Mohamed’s 54-year-old father Alioune Diouf said.

The city’s mayor Demba Diop said the fire had been caused by a short circuit and spread very quickly.

He denied allegations from relatives at the hospital and across social media that the babies had been left alone, saying a midwife and nurse were present on Wednesday evening.

“There was a noise and an explosion that lasted three minutes at most,” he said outside the hospital entrance.

“Five minutes after, the fire brigade arrived. People used fire extinguishers.”

The mayor said the air-conditioning had accelerated the flames and added that the two nurses fainted but were revived.

“There was no negligence,” Diop insisted.

The disaster however sparked calls for the resignation of Health Minister Abdoudaye Diouf Sarr, who was quoted in media reports also as blaming an electrical fault.

The presidency in the evening said he would be replaced by Marie Khemesse Ngom Ndiaye, formerly the director-general of the public health authority.

Sall would return early from abroad and visit the hospital on Saturday, his office said.

‘Beyond Heartbroken’

The maternity unit was equipped to take care of 13 babies.

“At the time of the fire, there were 11 whom nurses were unable to save,” the minister said.

World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus tweeted that he was “beyond heartbroken with this tragic news.

“I’m sending my deepest condolences to the parents and families of the babies who lost their lives.”

Outgoing health minister Sarr, who had been in Geneva attending a meeting with the WHO, said an investigation is under way.

The tragedy in Tivaouane comes after several other public health incidents in Senegal, which suffers from a great disparity between urban and rural areas in healthcare services.

In the northern town of Linguere in late April, a fire broke out at a hospital and four newborn babies were killed.

The town’s mayor cited an electrical malfunction in an air-conditioning unit in the maternity ward.

 ‘This Is Unacceptable’

Wednesday’s accident came over a month after the nation mourned the death of a pregnant woman who waited in vain for a caesarean section.

The woman, Astou Sokhna, arrived at a hospital in the northern city of Louga in pain. The staff refused to accommodate her request for a C-section, saying it was not scheduled.

She died on April 1, 20 hours after arrival.

Sokhna’s death caused a wave of outrage across the country over the dire state of the health system. Sarr acknowledged two weeks later that the death could have been avoided.

Three midwives on duty the night Sokhna died were given a six-month suspended prison sentence on May 11 by the High Court of Louga for “failure to assist a person in danger” in connection with her case.

Amnesty International’s Senegal director Seydi Gassama said his organisation had called for an inspection and upgrade for neonatal services in hospitals across Senegal after the “atrocious” death of the four babies in Linguere.

With the new tragedy, Amnesty “urges the government to set up an independent commission of inquiry to determine responsibility and punish the culprits, no matter the level they are at in the state apparatus”, he tweeted.

Opposition lawmaker Mamadou Lamine Diallo also responded with outrage to the Tivaouane blaze.

“More babies burned in a public hospital… this is unacceptable @MackySall,” he tweeted.

“We suffer with the families to whom we offer our condolences. Enough is enough.”

AFP

Fire Breaks Out At Russian Military Site, Injures One

File photo of Russian soldiers.                                      Alexander NEMENOV / AFP

 

A fire broke out on Sunday at a Russian defence ministry site in Belgorod, close to the border with Ukraine, the region’s governor said, injuring one person.

“On the the borders of three municipalities — Borisov, Belgorod and the urban district of Yakovlevsky — a fire broke out at one of the defence ministry’s facilities,” the governor of Russia’s Belgorod region, Vyacheslav Gladkov, said on Telegram.

He later said one person suffered minor injuries, adding that rescue services were at the scene.

The governor of another border region, Kursk, said earlier on Sunday via Telegram that part of a railway bridge used by freight collapsed, without causing any casualties.

“It was sabotage, a criminal case has been opened. The authorities in charge of the investigation will resolve the issue,” said governor Roman Starovoyt, without naming Ukrainian forces and promising additional information later.

Russia has accused Ukrainian forces many times of attacks on Russian territory, in areas close to the border with Ukraine.

Six Dead In Russian Military Research Institute Fire

Russian soldiers patrol a street on April 11, 2022, in Volnovakha in the Donetsk region. The picture was taken during a trip organized by the Russian military. Alexander NEMENOV / AFP

 

Six people died Thursday when a fire engulfed a Russian military research institute involved in developing air defence systems in the northwestern city of Tver, local officials said.

Russian television showed thick black smoke rising from inside the yellow four-storey building of the Central Research Institute of the Russian Air and Space Forces.

Several of the institute’s employees had to jump out of windows on the upper floors to escape the flames, according to witnesses quoted by broadcasters.

The Tver regional government said in a statement carried by state media that six people were killed and 21 injured in the blaze, updating earlier tolls.

Preliminary information suggests the fire was caused by faulty electric wiring, the TASS state news agency said.

The defence ministry said the institute focuses on research related to Russian air and space defence, as well as the development of new anti-aircraft systems.

Accidental fires are common in Russia, where hundreds of blazes are recorded each year due to ageing and dilapidated infrastructure and non-compliance with safety standards that are often lax.

AFP

Fire Guts Part Of Finance Ministry Building In Abuja

Picture showing smoke billowing from the Federal Ministry of Finance building in Abuja on Wednesday, February 23, 2022.

 

A fire outbreak has gutted part of a building at the Federal Ministry of Finance located in the Central Business District, Abuja.

Black smoke was seen billowing from a part of the building, following the fire outbreak on Wednesday morning.

The spokesperson of the Ministry of Finance, Olajide Oshundun told Channels Television that the fire started early morning around 6:50am. He added that some staff of the Ministry noticed smoke emanating from the room that houses the battery for an inverter.

READ ALSO: People Would Have Trekked If Not For Lagos-Ibadan Transport Projects – Buhari

Oshundun said the fire was put out with fire fighting equipment at the Ministry within twenty minutes and that the effect of the fire incident is minor as it only affected the basement of the Ministry.

Also, the Federal Ministry of Finance in a tweet explained the cause of the fire outbreak.

According to them, the incident occurred on the corridor in the basement involving an isolated battery pack and it has been put out by the security personnel on duty.

 

The fire outbreak is just the latest of many that have affected government offices in Abuja.

In May 2020, a part of the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST) building in Abuja was gutted by fire.

A month before that incident, a building housing the office of the accountant-general of the federation (AGF) was gutted by fire.

29-Year-Old Installer Suffocates, Dies In Kwara Petrol Tank

Kwara is a state in Western Nigeria
Kwara is a state in the north-central region of Nigeria.

 

Tragedy struck in Ilorin on Saturday as a 29-year-old petrol tank installer identified simply as Ahmed suffocated and died while working on a petrol tank at a filling station along Offa garage road in the Kwara State capital.

In a statement issued on Sunday, the spokesman of the Kwara State Fire Service Hassan Adekunle said the incident occurred opposite Adisco office, Ajase-Ipo Road, Ilorin.

The victim was said to have come from Ibadan with his boss for the job but suddenly suffocated while they were performing the maintenance work on a faulty petrol tank at the filling station and eventually died.

However, firemen were able to evacuate the body from the tank and handed over to his boss identified as Abdulbasit Oladimeji.

READ ALSO: Nine Dead In Kwara Road Accident

Report said that the casualty was allegedly careless as he embarked on the work without putting on the necessary safety implement.

“A 29-year-old tank installer/maintainer called Ahmed was recovered dead from petrol tank at a popular filling station in Ilorin, capital of Kwara,” the statement read.

“The terrible incident occurred last night at about 19:25hrs, No. 157 Bovas Filling Station opposite Adisco Ajase-Ipo Road, Ilorin.

“The victim man actually came from Ibadan with his boss for the job. While they were performing the maintenance work inside the petrol tank at the filling station, he suddenly got suffocated and eventually died in the tank.

“However, firemen were able to evacuate the body from the tank and handed over to his boss, Mr Abdulbasit Oladimeji.

“Report says the casualty was too careless for his life without putting on the necessary safety gear before he engaged on the work.”

Borno IDP Camp Fire: Minister Deploys Food To Victims

 

The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development Sadiya Umar Farouq has directed the immediate delivery of food and non-food items to victims of the Muna El-Badawy Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Camp in Maiduguri.

This followed a fire incident on Saturday which razed over 3,000 shelters in the camp. In a statement on Sunday by her special media aide Nneka Ikem Anibeze, the minister expressed sadness at the incident which rendered over 3,000 households homeless.

READ ALSOOut-Of-School Children Challenge Not Peculiar To North, Says Humanitarian Ministry

“On behalf of the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, I sympathize with the government and people of Borno state over the fire incident which killed some people and destroyed shelters.

“This disaster has rendered many more people without shelter even as government intensifies efforts to re-settle Internally Displaced Persons.

“The spate of fire incidents in IDP camps have become recurrent and the ministry is putting up measures to educate the IDPs on ways of preventing such fire disasters,” the statement added.

The fire, which reportedly started from a tent, engulfed 3,000 others due to the absence of firefighting facilities.

The National Emergency Management Agency NEMA and SEMA have already begun an on-the-field assessment of the damage.

The minister has since directed that the affected IDPs be provided with food, water, and grains as well as non-food items like clothing, blankets, mosquito nets, and other items to temporarily cushion the hardship in camp due to the incident.

Calm Returns To Nigerian Law School After Fire Incident

A file photo of the Nigerian law School in Lagos State.

 

Calm has returned to the Lagos Campus of the Nigerian Law School after the news broke that there was a fire outage at the campus located on Ozumba Mbadiwe Street, Victoria Island.

During a visit to the institution on Thursday, the Head of Administration, Dr Nathan Akubumadu confirmed the fire incident but declined to grant interviews on the issue.

He, however, took Channels TV’s judiciary Correspondent, Shola Soyele to this scene of the incident, the law school Hostel B. He explained that the incident was a result of a power surge in one of the circuits.

READ ALSO: Out-Of-School Children Challenge Not Peculiar To North, Says Humanitarian Ministry

“A power surge occurred around 11 pm Wednesday night in one of the circuits within the hostel premises and it affected the armoured cable that supplied power to the hostel. But our maintenance unit was on the ground to put it out immediately,” he said.

“I wasn’t even around. I left the school around 7 pm after the school hosted the ceremonial dinner which had some dignitaries in attendance. I started receiving calls as early as 4 am the next day from Yola, Enugu and even from abroad to enquire about what happened. They made it look as if the law school was fire but you can see for yourself that it’s not as bad as being reported.”

Another staff of the school who also spoke on the condition of anonymity said she was on the campus when the incident happened.

“Around 11 pm, I came out, flames were on. We had some of our electrical staff on the ground who went to the power source and were able to turn off the power so we were able to contain it.

“A lot of students ran out in panic, some called their parents and a lot of parents came to the school that night to pick the children.

“But there was no student casualty, one staff fell down and her ankle got swollen. She was taken to the school clinic and was given injections and she has since been placed on drugs and discharged,” she stated.

The school authorities also mentioned that the school had received visitors from the Department of State Security Services (DSS), the leadership of the Council of Legal Education amongst others who had come to see first-hand the state of things.

Fire Guts Sheikh Gumi’s Residence in Kaduna

The affected building in Kaduna State owned by Ahmad Gumi.

 

A portion of the residence of prominent Islamic Cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi in the Kaduna State capital has been gutted by fire.

The incident, which occurred on Saturday afternoon, affected an Islamiyya school located inside the compound along Alimi Road in the Kaduna metropolis.

READ ALSO: Military School Ex-Boys Join Drug War, Support NDLEA

However, the cause of the fire incident could not be ascertained as of the time of publishing this report.

Tukur Mamu, the media consultant to Gumi, confirmed the incident via a statement.

“This is to confirm a fire outbreak in Sheikh Dr. Ahmad Gumi’s residence. While the cause of the fire which lasted for about four hours has not yet been ascertained, we can confirm that no life was lost,” the statement reads.

“Contrary to media reports, the fire did not affect the second part of the large building where the Sheikh and his family resides.

“For clarity, part of the big edifice, an upstairs in the main entrance, [houses] a female secondary school, Khulitul Banat Girls College, which was founded by Gumi, while the Sheikh stays with his family in large duplexes at the inner part of the house.

“The side that was completely destroyed by the fire is upstairs of the Girls College. The well-equipped laboratory, computer sections (with about 50 computers) and 4 classrooms all in the upstairs of the building were all destroyed by the fire. The source of the fire is not yet known.”

An eyewitness told Channels Television that they suddenly saw a cloud of thick smoke coming out of the building just very close to the gate, forcing neighbours to fetch water to put out the fire. Officials of the Kaduna State Fire Service later rushed to the house and successfully put out the fire, stopping it from spreading to the entire compound.

See photos from the scene below:

‘Act Of Arson’ At South Africa Church Where Tutu Was Buried

A general view of the Cathedral ahead of the requiem mass of South African anti-Apartheid icon Archbishop Desmond Tutu at St. George’s Cathedral in Cape Town on January 1, 2022. Tutu died on December 26, 2021 at the age of 90, triggering grief among South Africans and tributes from world leaders for a life spent fighting injustice. Nic BOTHMA / POOL / AFP

 

A fire started by an arsonist broke out overnight at the cathedral where South Africa’s spiritual father and anti-apartheid hero, Archbishop Desmond Tutu was buried, a church leader announced Sunday.

The fire was detected in the basement of a section of St. George’s Cathedral in Cape Town at around 2 am (midnight GMT).

“The fire was an act of arson,” father Michael Weeder, dean at the cathedral, said in a note to his parish.

“It appears that a lit piece of cotton/gauze was thrown through the small, barred window near the steps leading up to the cathedral’s (main)… entrance,” he said.

“Someone was spotted running away from the cathedral.”

Firefighters quickly put out the fire, and other than “traces of smoke… there was no discernable damage done,” he added.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Tutu died in late December aged 90 after a life spent fighting injustice.

The cathedral where his ashes were interred on January 2, is just blocks away from the country’s parliament, which was set ablaze on the same day he was buried.

A man suspected to be the arsonist who started the fire that gutted the parliament is in custody awaiting trial after his application for bail was denied on Friday.

Cape Town suffered another major fire in April last year, when a blaze on the famed Table Mountain, which overlooks the city, ravaged part of the University of Cape Town’s library holding a unique collection of African archives.

No ‘Reported Fatalities’ Yet In Trinity Spirit FPSO Fire Incident, Says SEPCOL

A file photo of the explosion

 

Shebah Exploration & Production Company Ltd (SEPCOL) says there “are still no reported fatalities” after a fire engulfed its oil vessel, the Trinity Spirit FPSO located at the Ukpokiti Terminal in the early hours of Wednesday.

In a statement signed by CEO Ikemefuna Okafor and obtained by Channels Television on Saturday, SEPCOL said it was working with relevant authorities and stakeholders to contain the situation and that an investigation had been launched to establish the cause of the fire.

“We can confirm that the fire burnt out completely as of Thursday afternoon, 3rd Feb. 2022 and this has enabled closer inspection of the vessel,” the statement said.

READ ALSO: Rotimi Amaechi Bags Traditional Title In Daura

 

“With this development, a Joint Investigation Visit (JIV) has been scheduled for Saturday, 5th February 2022 with the relevant authorities, stakeholders, and expert organisations.

“Currently, there are still no reported fatalities, and we continue prioritising investigations with respect to establishing the whereabouts, safety, and security of the ten crew members who were on board the vessel prior to the incident.

“We appreciate the assistance provided us by the Clean Nigeria Associates, the Chevron team, NOSDRA, NUPRC, SPDC and people in the community, particularly the fishermen, who have
been of immense assistance since the incident occurred.

“Members of the public should continue to keep away from the area while our Crisis Management Team monitors developments in the investigations and update all stakeholders with new information accordingly.”

Victims Of Niger Market Fire Call For Govt Support

Niger State is in northcentral Nigeria.

 

Victims of the fire incident in Mokwa Central Market of Niger State, have called on the government to come to their aid after they lost goods and property worth millions of naira.

Speaking to Channels Television, one Toyin Abinbola a seller of kitchen intensives decried that she had lost everything to the inferno.

Another trader, Mutari Abiola, called on the local, state and federal governments to come to their aide so as to start up their businesses again.

Read Also: Fire Razes Niger Market, Destroys Goods Worth Millions Of Naira

The State Government delegation led by the Deputy Governor, Ahmed Ketso, paid a sympathy visit to the head of the community known as the Ndalele Mokwa, Mohammed Shaba, who in turn, requested for a tanker truck and other facilities in the market for speedy response in case of a future occurrence of such.

Ketso who also commensurated with the victims and people of Mokwa urged them to be sensitive to the causes of fire incidents to avoid future reoccurrence.

Meanwhile, the Director-General, Niger State Emergency Management Agency, Ahmed Inga, disclosed that assessment and investigation are ongoing to ascertain the cause and magnitude of the inferno.

Fire Razes Niger Market, Destroys Goods Worth Millions Of Naira

Niger is a state in the Middle Belt region of Nigeria and the largest state in the country.
Niger is a state in the Middle Belt region of Nigeria and the largest state in the country.

 

Fire has ripped through the Mokwa Central Market in Niger State on Thursday, destroying goods, mostly food items worth millions of naira.

Four persons, especially traders who slept in their shops, were said to have sustained various degrees of injuries and were taken to Mokwa General Hospital for medical treatment after the inferno.

The Paramount Ruler of the town, the Ndalile-Mokwa, Mohammed Shaba confirmed the incident to Channels Television via a telephone conversation, saying that the fire, which started at about 4 am, had razed down more than half of the market.

“The fire started around 4 o’clock in the morning. They called me and I called the fire service. They have been trying to put off the fire but because of lack of tanks, as I am talking to you, the fire is still on,” he said.

READ ALSO: Reps Condemn Re-Emergence Of Coups In West Africa

According to the traditional ruler, some hoodlums took advantage of the raging fire to steal goods but four of them had been apprehended.

“This is a rural market where foodstuffs are being sold in abundance. We are a bridge between the north and the south in terms of the supply of food. More than half of the market is gone,” the traditional ruler explained.

One of the traders simply identified as Etsu-Kpo Mokwa said marketers were counting their losses.

While describing the incident as devastating, he said: “It will take many traders years to recover from this disaster. We are still counting the losses. Fire service officials are still doing their best to put off the fire.”