Mudiaga Affe, Calabar
At least, 12 persons have died while several others were injured following a fire outbreak in one of the tank farms located in the Calabar Free Trade Zone in Calabar, Cross River State.
The Calabar FTZ in Esuk-Utan community is host to several tank farms belonging to different companies.
The inferno, which was said to have started around 4am on Sunday, affected tank farms around Dozy Oil depots in the free trade zone as well as other nearby facilities.
The fire also affected the high-tension cable and the transformer inside the depot, while two vehicles and other facilities were burnt to ashes.
Although the cause of the fire was not immediately known, a source, who craved anonymity, told Southern City News that it could have been due to activities of criminal elements that were siphoning petrol from the tank farm.
As at 2pm on Sunday, the fire had been completely put out, and it was observed that two vehicles and several plastic containers were burnt around Linc Oil and Gas depot.
Though access to Linc Oil and Gas was restricted to the public, a source said that an unidentified operations manager of the company was burnt to death in the inferno.
The source added, “Over 10 persons have died in this disaster. There are several others in the hospital. The whole of this yard is owned by Dozy Oil, but they leased some of their facilities to other companies.
“All the tank farms are linked through pipelines. The question that is begging for an answer is why the operations manager of Linc Oil and Gas died in the inferno when his depot has no product? It means there was an illegal activity taking place at that time of the morning.”
The state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Hafiz Inuwa, confirmed that nine persons died in the fire.
Inuwa, who was on the ground to access the extent of the damage, told Southern City News that several other persons, who sustained varying degrees of injury, were being treated in one of the hospitals in Calabar.
He said the management of Linc Oil and Gas had yet to brief him on the cause of the explosion.
“Up till now, nobody has come out to tell us what caused the fire outbreak. We have gone round; we have done what we can do, but investigation will later reveal what actually led to the explosion.
“For now, nine people are confirmed dead and many others who sustained different degrees of burns are currently receiving treatment in one of the hospitals around town,” the source said.
Officials of the Cross State Emergency Management Agency were also on the ground to access the extent of damages caused by the explosion.
The state Commissioner for Petroleum Resources, Mr. Itaya Nyong, who also visited the scene of the fire, said it was due to illegal siphoning of oil, adding that security agencies might have colluded with the perpetrators.
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