*Local government boss expresses disappointment that all firefighters in his fire stations were unavailable
By Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt
Three staff of Adros Gas company injured in the deadly explosion at the plant located at the Rumuodomaya, Obio-Akpor local government of Rivers State last Saturday have been confirmed dead.
The deceased staff died at University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, UPTH where they were being treated for the severe burns they sustained in the explosion.
They were among persons trapped in the plant by the explosion.
A staff of the gas plant confided in our correspondent on Saturday morning that his three colleagues have lost the battle to live to the injuries they sustained in the gas explosion incident.
“Three of them didn’t survive the burns. They died at UPTH (University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital)”.
He also confirmed that the plant has been since been sealed off by the relevant authorities.
According to him, officials of Rivers State Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources and the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, are carrying investigations about the cause of the explosion, while also trying to ascertain if operators of the plant were observing adequate safety standards before the fire incident.
It has also been revealed the two fire service stations with two firefighting trucks – one located almost opposite the Obio-Akpor Council Secretariat, about a minute drive to the gas plant, and another located inside Obio-Akpor International Market, less than three minutes drive to the scene of the explosion, failed to respond as fire razes the gas station.
Chairman of Obio/Akpor Local Government Area, Solomon Abel Eke, confirmed that the Council’s fire service was unable to respond to the incident, because the firemen were not on duty during a meeting with representatives of Petrol Retail Outlets Owners Association of Nigeria, PETROAN.
But he also advised owners of petrol and gas stations to set up infrastructure for fighting fire within their premises.
The Council Chairman regretted the Obio-Akpor International Market fire Station which had about 2,000 gallons of water installed could not respond to the fire incident because as none of the workers were on duty that night.
Eke noted that he was at the the scene of the fire incident to help take those injured to the hospital and was there with youths from the Rumuodomaya community to help put out the fire, but firefighters were nowhere to be found.
He also said he reached out to sister fire service units of Shell Petroleum Development Company and the state owned facility to no avail.
He said disciplinary measures and investigation is ongoing against the firefighters, who, according to him, sabotaged the good efforts of Council.
But Eke also acknowledged that the fire stations have been unable to function maximally due to lack of funds.
On his part, Rivers State Chairman, PETROAN, Francis Dimkpa, who regretted the lack of response by firefighters to the fire incident, noted that most petrol and gas stations in the state have been scored 98 per cent by DPR in terms of the safety standards they have implemented.
PM NEWS had reported that the fire at the gas plant was set off when a gas tanker caught fire after offloading its content inside one of the manholes.
The fire spread to other gas tanks.
Officials of government agencies, including the South-South Zonal Coordinator of National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, Ibarakumo Brandon Walson and the Red Cross have visited the plant.
Brandon Walson however said his agency was not mandated by law to carry out investigation, but that he led officers there to assess the number of persons who suffered losses during the explosion.
“From the briefing we got from the Manager of the plant, only three persons suffered burns, while one of them was said to be in critical condition at the time of our last visit. There is nothing we can do because our mandate is only for disasters that affect large population,” Walson