Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja and Emmanuel Ukumba in Lafia
President Muhammadu Buhari last night condoled with the government and people of Nasarawa State over the tragic fire incident which started from a petrol station in Lafia, killing about 15 peaople and destroying vehicles and several shops.
The president, according to a statement by his media aide, Mallam Garba Shehu, was briefed on the scale of destruction of lives and property during which he expressed grave concern over the high toll in the fire incident.
He also said the president consoled the bereaved families and appealed to the state and federal authorities as well as well-meaning persons in the state to ensure that the best medical assistance is provided for the injured.
The statement added that the president wished “that this kind of tragedy never happens to any part of the country.”
A gas explosion at a filling station, Natson Petroleum Nigeria Limited in Lafia left about 15 persons dead while over 50 others were severely burnt and rushed to some hospitals.
The cause of the explosion, according a source around the filling station, was due to leakage of gas from one of the reservoirs, which caught the attention of two motorists.
It was gathered that when the drivers of the vehicles attempted to run away from impending danger, they collided and went up in flames.
Consequently, nine vehicles, including two fuel tankers, eight motor cycles and three tricycles, were caught in the inferno and burnt down with their occupants.
Meanwhile, the casualty unit of the Dalhatu Araf Specialist Hospital (DASH) in Lafia was littered with burnt bodies of the victims as medical personnel of the hospital battled to save their lives.
This was even as sympathisers thronged to the hospital premises to catch a glance of the horrific incident as victims of the inferno were conveyed in by officials of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC).
When THISDAY spoke to one of the sympathisers, Ibrahim Mushasha, at the entrance of the casualty unit of the DASH, he confirmed that over 50 severely burnt persons have been conveyed into the unit for urgent medication to save their lives, while others were rushed to some private hospitals in the state capital.
“They were brought in unconsciously naked as their bodies were burnt as they struggle in anguish.
“However, we are yet to ascertain the number of those who died in the inferno as the dead bodies were still been counted.
“Some of the victims were caught up in the inferno as they were plying the Lafia-Abuja road, especially students of the Nasarawa State Polytechnic, Lafia, who were on their way to school for lectures, as well as other persons travelling on that road as at the time of the gas explosion,” he said.
A female medical worker attending to the victims at the casualty unit of the hospital declined comment on the number of casualties so far conveyed into the casualty unit for treatment when THISDAY sought to know the number.
She however said the immediate concern of officials of the hospital personnel was to save lives first.
Also, a security officer from the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) on duty at the casualty unit declined comment that it was only personnel from the casualty unit that could talk to the media on that explosion and its consequences.