This Day/allAfrica

Another tragedy struck Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital Friday, as multiple fire incidents and explosion wrecked havoc in four different locations in the city.

A vessel went up in flames at the Abuloma Jetty. The resultant explosion sent shivers down the spines of residents of the area as about 30 persons onboard were feared dead.

The exact number of persons onboard the vessel could not be determined, but it was leant that crew members, welders who came to carry out maintenance work on the vessel and some ladies suspected to be students from higher institutions in the state were among those who lost their lives in the inferno.

Also, an early morning fire gutted the premises of two media outfits; the Rivers State Newspapers Corporation, publishers of The Tide group of newspapers, and Silverbird’s 93.7 Rhythm FM radio station in Port Harcourt.

This came as the Joint Taskforce (JTF), known as the Operation Pulo Shield in the Niger Delta, set five tankers used for illegal bunkering on fire along the Eneka-Igwuruta road in the city.

In the vessel incident, THISDAY gathered that three persons who managed to jump into the river were rescued and were rushed to the hospital by an ambulance belonging to the Rivers State government, although they were still unconscious.

Eyewitnesses said the vessel explosion occurred at about 9.45am Friday, when the vessel had berthed to enable welders carry out a maintenance work, following a leakage noticed on the ferry.

One of the eyewitnesses, who gave his name as Iyke Mo, said the welders were trying to seal an opening on the vessel’s fuel tank, when the explosion occurred.

Two other smaller vessels near the vessel that exploded also went up in flames, but people around there used water pumping machines to put out the fire on the two ferries.

Five hours after the incident, men from the Rivers State Fire Service arrived the scene, but it was difficult to put out the fire because their vehicle could not access the vessel. Read more…