Providence smiled on 2,000 students of the popular Dennis Me­morial Grammar School (DMGS) who escaped unhurt as a fuel tanker explod­ed near their premises on Wednesday night in Onit­sha, the commercial nerve center of Anambra State.
Although firefighters and other rescue workers said that no life was lost, 48 ve­hicles and 25 buildings were burnt in the disaster, which occurred at the Upper New Market Road.
The fire however razed 25 buildings and burnt about 48 vehicles and other property estimated by independent assessors to be worth bil­lions of naira.

In fact, about 1,000 ­residents in the affected buildings have been rendered homeless, while Governor Willie Obiano has directed the immediate relocation of filling stations in residential areas.
The displaced persons were seen by The AUTHOR­ITY counting their losses. Some of them wept uncon­trollably and pleaded with the state government for as­sistance.

The inferno affected Mo­bil Filling Station near DMGS Roundabout at about 8pm on Wednesday and continued till Thursday morning.

Despite the allegations that some people died in the unfortunate incident, a state firefighter, Mr. Martin Ag­bili, insisted that no life was lost as at 1.00am on Wednes­day night.

Agbili said that four fire incidents happened in the state on Wednesday, but none was as devastating as the Onitsha incident and ap­pealed to the residents to be cautious about setting their environment on fire.
The Vice-Chairman of the Nigerian Red Cross Society in Anambra State, Prof. Peter Katchy, said that the group was yet to ascertain the num­ber of casualties.

Governor Obiano, who was accompanied to the scene by the Obi of Onitsha, HRH Alfred Achebe, expressed deep concern over the dam­age done by the fire disaster.

The other fire incidents occurred at Nimo, Okpuno, and Awka same yesterday.
He however promised the displaced families that accommodation would be provided for them until the burnt structures were recon­structed.

The governor also prom­ised that compensations will be paid to the affected busi­nesses.
A resident of the area who gave his name as Acho Oboli, said that the incident started around 8pm on Wednesday, when a petrol tanker driv­er lost control of his vehicle within the Zik’s Roundabout (DMGS axis) and crashed into the Mobil Petrol Station.

He said that 11 buildings were burnt at Oboli Lane, four at Oguta Road and four at the Upper New Market Road.
“Some of the buildings af­fected were the popular Kar­mo Plaza, the well-known SOUL Supermarket, the no­table REX Chemist, electronic stores, bookshops, residential buildings and law chambers.

About 48 vehicles, includ­ing two security patrol vehi­cles were also destroyed”, he narrated.
He said also that about 14 persons, who were con­firmed dead in his presence, were taken to the morgue of the Onitsha General Hospital.

It was learnt that the Asa­ba firefighting team arrived the scene 2 hours after so many damage has been done and the Anambra firefighters could not come as expected.

When contacted, the An­ambra State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Nkiruka Nwode, said that police officials have been de­ployed to the area, adding that the headquarters was yet to get the detailed report of the incidence.

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