By Chukwuemeka Opara
Abakaliki – The Police Command in Ebonyi on Friday confirmed the death of two children in a kerosene explosion which occurred at Ezzamgbo, Ohaukwu Local Government Area of the state.
The state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), ASP Loveth Odah, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the matter was reported at the Divisional Police Station Ezzamgbo, by one Mr Chinedu Onwe.
Odah said that Onwe was in company of one Mrs Christiana Ibili, 34, who suffered severe burns from the explosion, after purchasing the product from Dipro filling station at Ezzmagno junction.
“The Police gathered that on reaching her house, one of Ibili’s children poured the kerosene inside a lantern and lit a match-stick which resulted in an explosion with uncontrollable flame.
“The flame engulfed the whole building, which resulted in the death of Miss Joy Ituma, 5, and Master Joshua Onwe, 6, while Ibili and Mr Uchenna Ituma, 18, sustained severe burns.
“The children were confirmed dead by a medical doctor at the Federal Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki, while the wounded are receiving treatment at the hospital.”
The PPRO further said that Police had arrested an attendant at the petrol station, simply identified as Anayo, alongside Mr Emmanuel Ominyi, the station’s manager.
“The matter has been transferred to the command’s Criminal Investigation Department while the product sample has been submitted to relevant quarters for further tests.
“This is to ascertain whether it was adulterated, which is the suspected case and our officers have been deployed to the petrol station to prevent irate mob from destroying it.
“This measure is to prevent further loss of lives and we appeal to people of the area not to take laws into their hands as full investigations into the incident had commenced.”
Odah noted that adulteration of petroleum products is unlawful in Nigeria.
She said that the bodies of the dead children had been deposited in the hospital’s mortuary and prayed for the quick recovery of the wounded.
Meanwhile, Dr Emeka Ogah, the Chief Medical Director (CMD) of the hospital, confirmed to NAN that the victims were brought to the hospital but disagreed with the police on the number of the dead.
“The report I received indicated that only one person died from the explosion but I will make further clarification on Saturday to ascertain the true situation,” he said.
However, Mr Bassey Chima, the Special Assistant to the Governor on Petroleum Pricing and Distribution, told NAN that he was not aware of the incident as he had just returned from an assignment.