Explosion rocks Onitsha market, 12 casualties recorded
He said that Police immediately swung into action and brought the situation under control.
The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) in Anambra, DSP Ali Okechukwu, who confirmed the incident on Wedneday, May 4, said that the explosion was caused by hoarded fuel in a jerrycan.
“The explosion was not a bomb as being speculated by people. A jerrycan of petrol that was brought to the settlement exploded around the area and some people sustained various degrees of burns.
“They were taken to various hospitals and are currently receiving treatment. No death was recorded,” Okechukwu said.
Okechukwu, who put the casualty figure at 11, advised people to stop panic buying and storage of fuel because of the danger such practice posed in the event of an explosion or fire incident.
However, an eyewitness and leader of the settlement, Mr Sabo Mohammed, told NAN that the incident occurred at a restaurant in the market at about 8:30 p.m. on May 3.
He alleged that the explosion might have been from a bomb brought into the market by an unknown person.
“An unidentified boy walked into a restaurant with three jerry cans demanding for food and left almost immediately without eating the food, leaving the jerrycans behind.
“Some minutes later, one of the jerrycans, exploded leaving many people injured.
“The victims had severe burns that you cannot even hold their skin to carry them to hospital,"Mohammed said.
Another eyewitness, who pleaded anonymity, described the incident as “unfortunate”.
The source said that the victims were taken to five hospitals — Good News Hospital and Chioma Clinic both in Ogbaru; Toronto and Borromew Hospitals in Onitsha, and the General Hospital at Asaba, Delta state.
“This has been a peaceful market until yesterday. We are now disorganised and afraid of what might happen next,” the source said, urging the state government to provide adequate security in the area and help pay the bills of the victims.
One of the victims, Mrs Mariam Mohammed, who is receiving treatment at one of the hospitals, said she was washing dishes at the restaurant when the explosion occurred.
“I was washing plates when suddenly I heard a loud noise and fire spreading everywhere. Substances from the fire poured on people eating and those standing near the restaurant. It was then that I realised I was affected too,” she said.
The settlement, formerly a cattle market, now harbours artisans, labourers, onions and poultry dealers.
Meanwhile, two Police patrol vehicles have been stationed in front of the market while traders were seen going about their normal businesses.
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