Four Confirmed Dead as Explosion Rocks Anambra Market

Over four persons were confirmed dead and 20 others injured after fire gutted the Chemical Market, Onitsha Bridgehead, Anambra State.

The fire was said to have started around 12.10pm on Tuesday when chemicals stored in one of the shops along the Progressive Science Union Line exploded.

PUNCH Metro gathered that the incident led to a stampede in the heavily populated market, which resulted in the deaths and injuries.

Men of the Anambra and Delta states fire service reportedly came with two trucks and battled to stop the inferno to no avail.

A trader, Mr Uchenna Ekeh said, “We were in our shops as usual when we heard a loud noise like a bomb blast and we saw thick smokes from some shops upstairs and everyone started running for safety.

“Then people started shouting for help; we saw people carrying bodies of people from those shops that were on fire. Some were badly burnt, while others seemed to have been suffocated by the smoke and the stampede.

“We don’t know how much was lost to the fire, but it can be estimated at N850m to about N1bn because the goods are strong chemical products that are highly inflammable.”

The Chairman of the market, Chinedu Ezekwike, said the fire started from one of the shops where chemicals were stored.

Ezekwike said, “The chemical explosion that started from one of the shops even collapsed the building and in the process, four persons were killed.

“We are still waiting for the atmosphere to cool off, so we will search the debris to see if there are more persons or bodies trapped. But as it stands, scores of people have been injured.

“The explosion caused thick smoke, while iron bars and heavy stones started coming from the shops of the explosion and hitting people. We fear the casualty figure may increase.

“As you can see, we are putting up efforts to protect the market from the fire and two trucks of the fire service men have succeeded in putting out the fire.”

A member of the Caretaker Committee of the market, Peter Okala, lamented the tragedy.

Okala said most dealers of chemicals in the market were not well trained in handling them.

“If the former executive of the market had procured firefighting trucks, they would have helped in a situation like this,” he added.

As of the time of filing this report, security operatives had barricaded the market to avoid looting of goods.

The spokesperson for the Anambra State Police Command, DSP Toochukwu Ikenga, said, “The casualty figure is not certain now, but our operatives, led by DCP John Ogbodoaga, are still there, and the situation has been brought under control.”


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