No fewer than 11 people lost their lives yesterday in Port-Harcourt when a vessel suspected to be loaded with petroleum products caught fire in Abuloma Jetty, Port Harcourt City local government area of Rivers State.
As at the time our correspondent visited Abuloma Jetty yesterday, the vessel was still burning, even though, it had been pushed further into the waters.
LEADERSHIP WEEKEND however, gathered that the fire incident occurred following a spark from one of the wielding equipments being used to service the vessel.
An emergency rescue team, made up of Rivers State Police Command, the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), as well as the Rivers State Fire Service were on ground to curtail the fire.
An eyewitness, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the entire jetty would have gone up in flames but for the prompt and timely effort of the recue team in pushing the burning vessel away from the jetty into the water.
Similarly, no fewer than four fuel tankers went up in flame yesterday morning along Eneka Road in Obio/Akpor local government area of the state.
When LEADERSHIP WEEKEND visited the scene of the fire incident at about 11:00 am yesterday, the tankers covered by a cloud of smoke were still burning.
A resident of the area, Mr. Collins Akpan, said that the tankers, suspected for being illegally used to lift petroleum products, were allegedly set on fire by men of the Joint Task Force (JTF), code-named ‘Operation Pulo Shield’.
Efforts to reach the spokesperson of Sector Two of the JTF, Captain Sunny Samuel, proved abortive as he neither returned the calls made through to him, nor replied the SMS sent to him as at press time.