…UK agency blames incident on lack of safety consciousness
The death toll from the gas explosion on Monday at Monaco gas station in Lafia, the Nassarawa State capital has risen to 14 while victims with severe injuries have been transferred to National Hospital for additional medical services.
Nasarawa State Governor Tanko Al-Makura also confirmed the casualty figures on Tuesday when he personally visited the scene of the incident to assess the level of damage.
Describing the incident as “unfortunate” Al-Makura condoled with the families of those who lost their lives, and assured them that the state government would do its best to ensure that the survivors of the fire outbreak get the best of medical attention.
He said: “Last night, I got a report that six people died as a result of the burns sustained from the incident, but this morning, I was told that three more people had been confirmed dead.
“We were able to transfer 17 victims, who had over 60 per cent burns out of the 37 persons affected to the National Trauma Centre in Abuja, but three among them later died.
“Shortly before I arrived here, another child died while being removed from a pregnant mother, who also suffered severe burns.
“So, at the moment, we have recorded nine deaths as against the large figures being speculated in the media.”
He said the remaining 14 casualties currently at the National Trauma Centre were responding to treatment.
Al-Makura said: “I have directed that all the victims be given the best treatment available and for those in critical condition, requiring to be moved abroad, the Nasarawa State Government will take care of their bills just to ensure they live”, he added.
The governor called on residents of the state to obtain proper approval before siting their structures anywhere in the state in order to avert a repeat of such ugly occurrence.
He said: “I have called for a meeting with the committee on development control for us to review approvals for siting all businesses that pose danger to the people, especially gas stations.
“We have agreed that existing stations must comply with the safe distance specifications.”
He also said that he had directed the state fire service to cordon-off the area for the next seven days to ensure that it is totally safe for habitation.
He said: “We discovered that gas was still leaking from the tanks and we are making contact with the Department of Petroleum Resources and other agencies with the necessary equipment to assist in evacuating gas from the area.”
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) also reports that Monaco gas station in Lafia was on Monday morning engulfed by fire when the tanker offloading the liquified gas suddenly went ablaze.
Dogara Dalhatu, the Chief Fire Officer of the Nasarawa State Fire Service, who confirmed the incident attributed it to a spark around the vicinity where the gas was being discharged.
Dalhatu, however, said the inferno has been put under control by men of the fire service.
He said that about 10 vehicles, five motorcycles and three tricycles were destroyed by the fire.
Meanwhile, the Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA-UK) has attributed the gas explosion to lack of safety awareness and training on parts of citizens and employers.
Speaking through its Regional Administrator to Nigeria Mr. Emmanuel Uwalaka, OSHA-UK warned Nigerians to be watchful of any activities happening within their environment, adding that most of the victims of the Lafia gas explosion were passerby and onlookers.
Uwalaka, who described the incident as a serious tragedy, said that there were principles and procedures that guide people in ensuring safety both at work places, homes and streets.
The safety expert urged Nigerians to keep off from fire accident scenes, if they were not providing solutions to avoid more casualties.
He noted that there was urgent need for training and re-training of members of staff of all organisations on safety measures to avoid fire incidents and other forms of work place hazards.
According to him, the fire incident at Lafia petrol station is a clear indication of lack of Self Safety Measures (SSM) within the citizens.
“There is the need to ensure safety in everyday life and a procedure and principles guiding it.
“Nigerians must learn how to act and behave safely when conducting their daily operations. We must start to take occupational safety very serious.
“Few months ago, several vehicles got burnt after a petrol tanker explosion in Lagos due to safety negligence and lack of precautionary measures.
“Employers of labours must stop killing Nigerians” he added.