Over 30 people lost their lives on Thursday night, in Calabar, the Cross River State capital after an electrocution tragedy.
According to reports, the football fans were said to have assembled at a viewing centre in Nyahasang, Atimbo Calabar, to watch the UEFA Europa League football quarter-final match between Manchester United and Anderlecht, when a high tension cable fell on them.
A transformer near the viewing centre reportedly fell which caused one of the high tension cables attached to the transformer to fall on the zinc of the viewing centre building, eyewitnesses report.
A survivor who spoke with newsmen after the incident said a transformer near the viewing centre located in the Iyang-Esu area of Calabar municipal local government area, exploded during the match. He narrates:
“It happened during the match between Manchester United and Anderlecht. I heard a deafening bang. I rushed out to see what was happening.
“When I turned back to go inside the viewing centre, I saw a cable coming down on the centre and this electrocuted the viewers in the hall.
“It was a horrible sight to behold. I wish I didn’t come out to watch the match. Come to think of it, I have DStv at home but I enjoy watching matches at viewing centres. I could have been dead. I can’t believe that the people I was chatting and joking with a few minutes ago are all gone in a most anguishing way. This world is vain.”
The electrocution tragedy claimed no less than 30 lives while the few that survived were badly burnt and have been taken to Cross River state Teaching hospital.
In the meantime, Gov. Ben Ayade has described the incident as tragic and horrifying, in a statement issued by Mr Christian Ita, his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Chief Press Secretary in Calabar on Friday.
Gov. Ayade also said it was heart wrenching that the lives of the young men were lost through electrocution. The statement reads:
“The incident marks a dark chapter in the life of the state where the precious lives of football lovers have been lost.
“At this point in time, it is sad to know that the victims lost their lives at a viewing centre where they usually converge, at their leisure time to watch their matches”.
While commiserating with the families of the victims of the tragedy, the governor promised that the state government would look into the likely cause of the incident to preventing reoccurrence.
Last week, a major disaster was reportedly averted in Calabar, as the uncompleted $14m multipurpose sports hall of the U. J. Esuene Sports Stadium collapsed.
The facility, whose construction started in 2014 by Henley Brecon and Mayfield Ltd., was supposed to be one of the facilities to host the National Sports Festival, but later abandoned after a huge amount of money was expended on it.
At the site, a section of the uncompleted sports hall had collapsed and it is feared that if nothing urgent is done, most part of the structure may give way, as the quality of work and materials is called to question.
Eyewitness reports said the cleaners had barely stepped out before they heard a loud crash and the building came crashing down. He said the incident which occurred on Good Friday would have been a major disaster and would have claimed more lives but for the public holiday.
Chairman of the State’s Sports Commission, Otuekong Orok Duke, confirmed the incident claiming that the contractors used substandard materials because the structure had been there for not more than three years. He further clarified that the structure was erected before the advent of Prof Ben Ayade’s present government.