Kasim Sumaina in Abuja
The federal government yesterday ordered a thorough investigation into the incident involving the burning of coal in Umuozo community in Otolo, Nnewi North Local Government Area (LGA) of Anambra State .
The Ministry of Mines and Steel Development noted that its attention was drawn to a gas emission from exposed coal seam within the community.
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Alhaji Abubakar Bawa Bwari, in a statement by his media aide, Ishaku Kigbu, in Abuja, disclosed that the ministry had dispatched a team of officers from the ministry to visit the scene for preliminary inspection and to hold discussion with the affected community.
According to him, the team observed that as a result of the gully erosion around the community, some coal seams were exposed with some emitting gases that resulted in the death of 15 persons as reported by the community.
Bwari noted that there was intermittent fire flares from the exposed coal seams and this commenced around December 2017.
According to him, “Coal deposits are known to contain several gases that are highly toxic and injurious to human health and environment. In this case, the deaths could be as a result of the coal releasing carbon dioxide and other gases that if inhaled could cause harm to human beings.
“It was further observed that there is no mining activity in that vicinity; therefore, this disaster is not related to mining operations.”
The statement revealed that the minister had ordered further investigation on the effect of this on humans and the environment to ascertain the type of gas as well as proffer adequate solution so as to curb the situation.