Wednesday, 26 December 2012

‘Knockouts’ kill one, destroy property worth millions in Lagos


One person was reportedly killed while goods and property worth millions of naira were lost yesterday in a fire that swept through the densely populated Jankara area of Lagos Island.
Spokesman for the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) in the South-west, Mr. Iyiola Akande, confirmed the death in a text message sent to Blueprint.
Eight buildings and 15 vehicles were consumed by the inferno which left 40 persons injured.
Meanwhile, NEMA officials, men of the Federal Fire Service, Army, Navy, Air Force and other agencies were still conducting their operations as at the time of filing this report.
Unconfirmed reports said the fire broke out when a small boy ignited a firecracker, popularly known as ‘knockout,’ which hit some of the stocks of unsold fireworks in the building.
Men of the Fire Service who arrived at the scene more than an hour after the fire started could not access the area because of the uncontrollable crowds. When they eventually did, they ran out of water.
The fire triggered multiple loud explosions, causing a huge panic on the Island amongst residents, traders and revellers.
They fled to different directions, thinking that the explosions were from bombs detonated by operatives of the dreaded Boko Haram sect.
In an attempt to escape from the scene, several persons suffered varying degrees of injury.
A Red Cross official, Mr. Nicholas Adesile, told reporters that his agency had treated over 30 persons.
An eyewitness who gave his name as Mr. Jerome Ubah told Blueprint that the first thought that flashed through his mind when he heard the first explosion was that men of Boko Haram  had struck.
The witness, who was in the area for shopping, said: “When I heard the first explosion I thought it was a bomb because it was very loud. Everybody was just running helter-skelter and then several other explosions followed. I thought Boko Haram had finally come to Lagos.”
The Lagos state police command had in early November warned residents of the state that the ban on fireworks was still in force.
The ban, according to the police spokesperson, Miss Ngozi Braide, was to avert fire and check the activities of men of the underworld who use such explosives during some of their operations.
The ban is being observed in the breach by Lagosians as the fireworks had characterised the festivities.

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