Cross River State Police Command has confirmed that seven people died in a fire outbreak that occurred at Linc Oil and Gas tank farm, Calabar on Sunday morning.
The State Police Commissioner, Mr Hafiz Inuwa, in an interaction with newsmen said that seven persons had been confirmed dead, while nine were injured.
Inuwa said “only seven died and nine were injured. They are receiving treatment at the teaching hospital. However, some of my men were on ground when the fire was burning and they did what they could to helped put out the fire as well as cordoned the area so hoodlums would not take advantage of the situation for looting.”
There had been a fire outbreak at the Calabar Free Zone in Cross River State, southern Nigeria, involving the tank farm, three vessels and a fishing settlement.
The fire, which is suspected to be as a result of illegal bunkering of Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, left a trail of deaths and destruction of property worth millions at the zone in Esuk Utan community, home to tank farms owned by different companies.
Voice of Nigeria gathered that some unscrupulous persons may have siphoned petrol from one of the pipes as a ship was discharging its content to one of the tanks at about 2 a.m, Sunday morning.
Information gathered also revealed that a valve used by the suspected criminals, now feared dead, may have exploded under pressure and caused massive leakage.
Some members of Esuk Utan community told Voice of Nigeria that the leakage, which flowed through the gutters to the Calabar river attracted the attention of the villages, who decided to cash in on the spillage.
Though no one could truly ascertain the cause of the explosion, it is assumed that six persons died on the spot, several sustained various degrees of burns and were being treated at the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, while seven or more fishermen including their boats and paraphernalia at a nearby settlement died in the inferno.
The vessel that was discharging the product was spared damage as the men on board brought the fire under control, while three others belonging to the Nigerian Ports Authority were affected.
Also, the Cross River State Commissioner for Petroleum Resources, Mr Itaya Nyong, who inspected the scene of the fire outbreak attributed the incident to activities of criminal elements siphoning petrol from the tank farm.
He said an investigation would be launched into the matter and other culprits brought to book.