Nnewi, Anambra State’s industrial city, was yesterday thrown into mourning following a gas explosion in a factory that left six people dead and others injured.
The situation created panic in the city as people ran helter-skelter.
The Christmas Eve fire broke out at the premises of a gas company, Inter Corp Oil Limited, a subsidiary of a leading firm, Chikason Group, after an explosion which reportedly occurred while a gas-laden truck was discharging its content.
There is controversy over the fatalities as an eyewitness who spoke to our reporter on telephone claimed that he saw more than 20 bodies.
Another eyewitness, who is a local reporter insisted that about 100 people – workers in the factory and customers – died in the fire.
The police and the Nigerian Red Cross (NRC) also had different figures.
The Vice Chairman of the NRC in Anambra State, Prof. Peter Kathy, said four bodies were taken to the hospital. He said scores were injured.
But Police Commissioner Hosea Karma said six died and six injured.
According to him, four of the injured who had serious injuries were transferred to the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital.
The police said the dead were customers, adding that no employee of the firm died.
But an eye witness, Zico Prince who insited that no fewer than 20 died, said many customers were at the place at the time of the incident “because the company will not open tomorrow (today)”.
He said the Fire Service in Nnewi did not have water to fight the fire when it was contacted.
“They called Awka and Onitsha to rescue them,” Prince added. (The Nation)