Two siblings have died while two others sustained severe burns as a result of two kerosene explosions in Umuebe village, Ezzamgbo community in Ohaukwu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.
The incident occurred on Monday, but police have just confirmed it.
PREMIUM TIMES reliably gathered that the victims purchased the adulterated fuel from the same filling station at Ezzamgbo junction.
The explosions happened at two different locations in the area, it was learnt.
The names of the deceased children are Joy Ituma, six, and her four-year old brother, Joshua Ituma.
The two children and their uncle were rushed to the Federal Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki (FETHA) were they died.
Thirty four-year old Christiana Idenyi and 17-year old Uchenna Idoko, an uncle of the kids are the other two victims.
Mrs Idenyi, who said incident happened last Monday evening, lamented that the explosion occurred immediately she struck the matches to light her lantern. She said it gave her serious burns which affected her two legs.
“I went to the filling station and bought the kerosene. I poured it into the lamp immediately I returned. So, immediately I struck the matches, it exploded. As you can see, my legs, hands, and other parts of my body were burnt,” Mrs Idenyi narrated.
The deceased persons’ uncle, Chukwudi Idoko, also narrated what happened.
“When the schools went on holiday, my younger brother left Obobo village to my sister’s house to assist my sister. She trades on babies wears and her husband is a commercial bus driver.
“So, he is the one that takes care of the children. So, when they bought the kerosene, they poured it inside the lantern. So, immediately he struck the matches to light it, it exploded and everywhere went up in flames,” he narrated.
Juliet Igwebuike, who also lives in the building, confirmed that she was at the scene of the incident and gave her account thus:
“I was just coming back from church. I went inside to change when I started hearing shouts calling for help. I thought he was quarrelling with his sister. But the boy kept ‘shouting help oh!’ ‘It’s fire oh!’ So, I rushed out immediately. He was already outside the room trying to put out the fire on him.
“There was no way to enter the room. I checked the door net and it was locked. I checked the window, it was locked too. Later, the other man took courage and broke the door net that was locked. The boy had earlier broken the window glass and jump out.
“He kept screaming that his brother and sister were inside. One Calabar man in the house, my neighbour, went inside with courage. The other man also moved in also.
“I was standing at the window. They threw out the first child, a girl, from the window and I picked her and poured her water. Later they threw out the second child, a boy, and I also poured him water,” she narrated.
Police spokesman in the state, Loveth Odah, confirmed the incident.
She said the police have arrested the filling station’s manager, Emmanuel Omiyi, and the kerosene pump attendant, Anayo Ayu, for interrogation.
The spokesman further said that some samples of the kerosene have been taken from the facility for laboratory test.
The chief consultant at the Burns and Plastic Surgery unit of Federal Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki (FETHA), Nnadozie Ugochukwu, said the four-year-old was 100 percent burnt.
“The six-year-old was about 95 percent burnt; several degrees burn. The only thing that remained was a little part of her hairs. The 17-year-old boy sustained about 57 percent burns. And because they stayed so long inside that place, they had difficulty in breathing even by the time they came,” he added.