About eighteen people lost their lives on Friday morning while many others sustained third degree burns in a fire that started after a gas explosion went off at the construction site of the Cross River State office of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN Calabar, located at Calabar Road by the Millennium Park.
The explosion which took place at about 11.45 am set the main building of the bank on fire, trapping many staff and visitors which resulted to the high number of casualties .
A resident named Gift Effiong said:
“I heard a loud explosion coming from CBN axis, the road is now blocked and motorists have been diverted to another route.”
Another source told newsmen that the explosion was heard from within CBN and a fire started afterwards.
An Official of the Federal Fire Service at the Calabar Airport told Vanguard reporter that, he could not give the specific number of the dead:
“I cannot give exact figures of how many people are dead but many people were burnt beyond recognition while many sustained third degree burns; rescue operation is going on to ensure everyone is brought out soon.”
According to him, the source of the explosion is not known but it is speculated to be some locally made improvised device, while some say it is the gas tank at the generator house that exploded.
Also available at the scene was the Acting Inspector General of police, Zone 6, Calabar, Baba-Adisa Bolanta. Bolanta also inspected the scene, saying the explosion was suspected to be from gas within the central air-conditioning unit.
“This is just an initial assessment, and it is not confirmed yet. It is when a final result has been given that we will confirm what really happened.”
According to him,
“So far eighteen persons were casualty but no death has been recorded.”
A team of mobile policemen and soldiers assisted by nurses and personnel of the Nigeria Security and civil defense Corps were seen keeping guard over the place while officials of the Federal and State Fire Services were putting out the fire and rescuing those trapped in the building.
Ambulances from the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, UCTH, and General Hospital Calabar were brought in to evacuate the dead and those wounded while rescue efforts were being made to extricate those still inside. There were fire trucks in the premises of the bank, shattered glasses was everywhere as parts of the main bank building was damaged.
Relatives of the staff could be seen crying at the gate, demanding to see their people working in the bank.
No official of the bank was willing to speak to the press on the cause of the inferno as they were too traumatized to speak.
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