Four confirmed dead in Anambra Chemical Market explosion

Four persons died on Tuesday and about 20 others were injured following an explosion at the Chemical Market, Onitsha Bridgehead in Anambra State.

The fire was said to have started around 12.10pm when chemicals stored in one of the shops along the Progressive Science Union Line exploded.

The incident led to a stampede in the heavily populated market, which resulted in injuries.

A trader Uchenna Ekeh said, “We were in our shops as usual when we heard a loud noise like a bomb blast and we saw thick smokes from some shops upstairs and everyone started running for safety.

“Then people started shouting for help; we saw people carrying bodies of people from those shops that were on fire. Some were badly burnt, while others seemed to have been suffocated by the smoke and the stampede.

“We don’t know how much was lost to the fire, but it can be estimated at N850m to about N1bn because the goods are strong chemical products that are highly inflammable.”

Chairman of the market Chinedu Ezekwike said, “The chemical explosion that started from one of the shops even collapsed the building and in the process, four persons were killed.

“We are still waiting for the atmosphere to cool off, so we will search the debris to see if there are more persons or bodies trapped. But as it stands, scores of people have been injured.

“The explosion caused thick smoke, while iron bars and heavy stones started coming from the shops of the explosion and hitting people. We fear the casualty figure may increase.”

Spokesperson for the Anambra State Police Command Toochukwu Ikenga said, “The casualty figure is not certain now, but our operatives, led by DCP John Ogbodoaga, are still there, and the situation has been brought under control.”