At least eight hospitalised victims of the pipeline fire incident in the Ijegun area of Lagos State have reportedly succumbed to death as a result of the severe burns they suffered.
The inferno resulted from an explosion at a vandalised point of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation’s product pipeline in the Ijegun area of the Igando-Ikotun Local Council Development Area on Thursday, which led to the death of two persons, while scores of residents were injured and properties worth several millions of naira destroyed.
Despite frantic efforts by doctors to save the victims, PUNCH reported that a mechanic, Murphy Afolabi; his wife, Rashidat; their three-year-old son, Ridwan; and their daughter, Opeyemi; as well as Idayat Mondiu; her daughter, identified simply as Iya Jumoke, all gave up the ghost.
A couple, identified simply as Daddy and Mummy Warris, were also said to have passed away where they were being treated three days after the fuel spillage and the attendant fire.
Footage in the possession of our correspondent showed how some of the hospitalised victims were writhing in pain as they were being bandaged from head to toe due to the severity of the burns they suffered.
The spillage occurred when some yet-to-be identified vandals were ambushed by security agents, while scooping fuel from a punctured NNPC pipeline.
The vandals, in an attempt to escape from the scene, were said to have left the punctured point open as fuel spilled all over the area, including the drainage channel connecting Irede Street and the canal on the Catholic Church Street.
While an account had it that the vandals set the spilled fuel on fire in order to escape arrest, another stated that a motorist, who had attempted to start his engine in the area, caused the explosion.
Mondiu’s family of 12, Afolabi’s family of seven and the Warris’ family of four, among others, were said to be asleep in their various homes around the canal on the Catholic Church Street when the incident occurred and were burnt by the raging inferno.
They were all hospitalised at the Gbagada General Hospital and the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja, while the surviving members of the families were said to be battling to survive the tragedy.
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The Chief Executive Officer, Lagos State Emergency Management Authority, Dr Oluwafemi Oke-Osanyintolu, while speaking to journalists at the scene of the incident, assured Lagosians that Governor Babajide Sanwolo-Olu was closely monitoring the situation, adding that the injured victims were receiving treatment in hospitals.
But the families of the hospitalised victims, while lamenting the loss of their loved ones, refuted Oke-Osanyintolu’s claim, saying the government had abandoned the victims in hospitals.
A member of the Afolabi family, Qausarat, who appealed to Sanwo-Olu to come to the aid of the victims, said she had lost four members of her family.
She said amidst tears, “I lost my younger brother, Ridwan, on Friday; my daddy’s wife, Rashidat, on Saturday; and before I received your call, someone at the hospital informed me that my father died today (Sunday). My sister, Opeyemi, has also died. This is getting too much; I am not sure I can continue to bear all these losses as I still have four siblings in critical conditions.
“Ever since they were admitted in hospital, we have been the ones sourcing for the money to treat them; they have not received any free treatment and this means that the government has abandoned my family.
“Even Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu has not done anything for us. We want Sanwo-Olu to urgently come to our aid so that adequate treatment can be given to my four siblings, Amudat, Opeyemi, Fatiu and Mariam, because I don’t want to lose them.”
Mondiu’s brother, Kehinde, while mourning the death of his brother’s wife, daughter and grandchild, also accussed the government of abandoning the vicitms in hospital.
He stated, “Our family members have been donating money for the treatment of my brother’s family. In fact, whenever I get to hospital, the doctors would have prescribed drugs to buy for their treatment and the money for the drugs is prohibitive.
“If you see my brother and his wife and some of their children, they are bandaged from head to toe. We are surprised that the government has abandoned us; we want the government to intervene so that they can be treated properly.”
PUNCH Metro learnt that residents of the Catholic Church Street and environs had been contributing money to support the medical treatment of the victims of the fire incident.
A landlady, Habibat Ojoolowo, said she had mobilised women in the area to contribute money for the treatment of the hospitalised victims.
“When the doctors at the general hospitals were not attending to our neighbours properly and most of them were dying due to poor treatment, we had to mobilise support for them through donations so that they could be treated properly,” Ojoolowo stated.
The Oba of Ijegun, Nureni Akinremi, also appealed for government’s intervention to ensure that the victims were adequately treated to avoid further loss of life.
“My people in hospitals are highly in need of government’s financial support and I also seize this opportunity to thank the firefighters for their quick response to the fire incident,” Akinremi said.
The Director, Public Affairs, Lagos State Ministry of Health, Tunbosun Ogunbanwo, said the government was on top of the situation, adding that the victims were not abandoned.
Ogunbanwo said, “Presently, the government is picking the medical bills of the victims; some of them have high degrees of burns and in spite of that, the government is still responsible for their care.
The Chief Executive Officer of LASEMA said he had been to the hospitals today (Sunday) to check on some of the victims.
“Some of these families may not know that the medical treatment has various stages, but if they see their family members suffering, they may be reacting and start making some wild allegations. The burns unit in Gbagada and the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital in Ikeja are specialists’ hospitals capable of taking proper care of the victims. They (victims) cannot be abandoned.”
When contacted, Oke-Osanyintolu said he had done an on-the-spot clinical ward round to ensure that the victims received adequate medical care, adding that he had yet to get reports from the medical directors on the death of any of the victims.
Oke-Osanyintolu stated, “I am just leaving the Gbagada General Hospital and as I speak to you, the medical workers are giving all of the victims adequate medical treatment. I have posted some of the doctors working with me to the Gbagada General Hospital and LASUTH to assist in the treatment, because some of the victims sustained 80 per cent to 90 per cent burns.
“When we talk about burns, it comes with different kinds of complications. I have made arrangements for some of the drugs that they don’t have in the hospitals and I will be moving advance ambulances there on Monday (today).
“I have done an on-the-spot clinical ward round and also spoke with relatives like Mr Gabadin, whose driver was a victim, and I have assured them that they should not panic. I cannot say anyone has died until I receive comprehensive medical reports from the medical directors.”