NEW YEAR INFERNO: Ebonyi CP orders probe as death toll rises to 5 – From Reginald Okoro/Abakaliki

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Ebonyi CP, Phillip Maku

The Ebonyi State Commissioner of Police, Philip Maku, has ordered a full-scale investigation into the New Year fire outbreak in Akaeze community of Ebonyi State that has left at least five persons dead and many others in critical condition. 

Mrs. Loveth Odah, Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) in an interview with our correspondent on Sunday in Abakaliki, said that Maku was devastated at the tragic incident that left many dead including a three-year old baby. 

She said that four more persons have been confirmed death bringing the total death toll to five. 

“The Commissioner of Police, Mr. Philip Maku, has ordered a discreet investigation into the Akaeze fire incident to ascertain the actual cause of the fire outbreak. 

“We do not really believe that someone can actually fire cannon all in the name of celebrating the New Year because even during traditional burials we normally give approval before cannon can be fired at burial ceremonies. 

“So, this time around, we were not aware that the man wanted to fire cannon; it’s unusual and see what great disaster it has caused. 

“The CP has therefore directed that ful- scale investigation should be carried out to find out why such tragic incident should happen when people were celebrating the New Year,” she said.

The police spokesperson, however, said that number of casualties in the fire incident has risen from one to five persons contrary to seven deaths been peddled. 

“Four additional deaths were recorded from among those rushed to hospital for treatment while the other survivors are still receiving medical attention at the hospital,” Odah explained. 

Meanwhile, Dr. Nelson Ogbaeja, an indigene of Akaeze and one of those involved in the rescue operation who spoke to our Correspondent said that seven of the victims taken to hospital had died. 

Ogbaeja added that one of the survivors was in a critical condition having sustained first degree burn.

“Seven more deaths have been recorded from those who were taken to hospital bringing the number of deaths from the fire incident to eight,” Ogbaeja said. 

SummitNews recalls that the fire incident occurred in Iyioji, Akaeze community around 8 a.m on Friday, January. 1, at the home of one Ogenyi Chukwu. 

The fire outbreak allegedly occurred when cannon ‘Nkpolali’ loaded with gun powder and left in the house had contact with fire.

Chukwu said their children and 11 other relatives were watching film in the house when suddenly the cannon exploded and fire engulfed the entire house leading to pandemonium.

Meanwhile, Chief Onyebuchi Ogbadu, Chairman, Ivo LGA has commiserated with families of the victims, saying that the council would do everything within its powers to ensure that survivours were given best medical attention.

Ogbadu described the incident as ‘tragic’ and prayed for the peaceful repose of the souls of those that lost their lives in the incident.

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