By Salawudeen Olawale
A 34-year-old woman, Mrs. Anna Utibe, has been confirmed dead following the explosion of adulterated kerosene that left 16 others critically injured in Calabar, the Cross River State capital.
It was learnt on Tuesday that the incident happened at various times between March 14 and 27 at different locations in Calabar.
The survivors, it was gathered, were being treated at the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital.
The state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Inyang Asibong, who visited the victims on Tuesday in Calabar, confirmed the incidents.
One of the victims, Mr. Anitie Asuquo (38), whose son was a victim of the explosion on March 27, said he was trying to light up his lantern when the explosion occurred.
“I came back from work and went out to buy kerosene unknown to me that it had been adulterated.
“As soon as I poured it into my lantern and wanted to light it up; all I heard was an explosion in form of a bomb. My whole body has been greatly affected.
“I am appealing to the state government and concerned individuals to come to my aid because I don’t have money to foot my medical bills,” he appealed.
Another survivor, Rebecca Itope (22) said that she experienced the explosion on the night of March 23 when she was trying to light up her stove for cooking.
“With this explosion on my body, I have missed the chance of writing this year’s Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination,” she lamented.
But the commissioner said the state government had before the incident warned members of the public that there was adulterated kerosene being sold for domestic use.
Asibong, who donated some treatment equipment to the victims, said the explosion was capable of deforming the skin of the victims.
She said the deceased, Utibe, a mother of two, was seriously injured by the explosion, adding that she died because of the impact of the explosion on her.
Also, the state Commissioner for Petroleum Resources, Mr. Itaya Asuquo-Nyong, said investigation had commenced into the matter to unravel the immediate cause of the explosion.
Asuquo-Nyong said his ministry was working with security agencies in the state to arrest perpetrators of the act.
The Head of Casualty and Emergency Unit, UCTH, Prof. Udeme Udeme, commended the state government for donating equipment to the hospital that would aid in the treatment of the victims.