No less than eight hospitalized victims of the pipeline fire incident in Ijegun area Lagos State are reported dead as a result of their serious burns they suffered.
The inferno resulted from an explosion on Thursday in the Ijegun region of the Igando-Ikotun Local Council Development Area at a vandalized point of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation’s product pipeline, which resulted in the death of two people, while numbers of residents were injured and properties worth several million naira were destroyed.
Despite doctors’ frenzied attempts to save the victims, it was learned 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, simply identified as Iya Jumoke, gave up the ghost.
A couple, identified merely as Daddy and Mummy Warris, were also said to have passed away three days after the spillage of fuel and the attendant fire, where they were being treated.
In an effort to escape the scene, the vandals were said to have left the dot open as fuel spilled all through the area, including the Irede Street drainage channel and the Catholic Church Street canal.
While there was an account that the vandals set the spilled petrol on fire to avoid arrest, another said that the explosion was triggered by a driver who had tried to start his engine in the area.
Mondiu’s family of twelve, Afolabi’s family of seven, and the Warris family of four, among others, were said to sleep in their various homes around the canal on Catholic Church Street when the event took place and the raging inferno burned them.
They were all hospitalized at the Gbagada General Hospital and the Ikeja Teaching Hospital at Lagos State University, while the surviving family members were said to be fighting to survive the tragedy.
While talking to reporters at the scene of the event, the Chief Executive Officer of the Lagos State Emergency Management Authority, Dr. Oluwafemi Oke-Osanyintolu, ensured Lagosians that Governor Babajide Sanwolo-Olu is monitoring the scenario carefully, adding that the injured victims received treatment in hospitals.
But the relatives of the hospitalized victims, lamenting the loss of their loved ones, refuted the assertion of Oke-Osanyintolu, stating that the government had abandoned the victims in hospitals.
A member of the Afolabi family, Qausarat, who appealed to Sanwo-Olu to help the victims, said that she had lost four family members.
In tears she said, “On Friday I lost my younger brother, Ridwan; on Saturday my father’s wife, Rashidat; and before I got your call, someone at the hospital told me that my dad died today (Sunday). My sister, Opeyemi, died as well. I’m not sure that I can continue to bear all these losses because I still have our siblings in critical conditions.
“We have been providing the money to treat them since they were admitted to the hospital; they have not received any free treatment, and that means the government has left my family.
“Even Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu did nothing for us. We want Sanwo-Olu to come to our aid urgently so that my four siblings, Amudat, Opeyemi, Fatiu and Mariam, can receive adequate treatment because I don’t want to lose them.”
While mourning the death of his brother’s wife, daughter and grandchild, Mondiu’s brother Kehinde also accused the government of abandoning the victims.
He said, “Our family members donated money to my brother’s family for treatment. The doctors would have prescribed drugs to purchase for their treatment whenever I get to the hospital, and the money for the drugs is prohibitive.
“If you see my brother and his wife and some of their kids, from head to toe they’re bandaged. We are amazed that we have been abandoned by the government; we want the government to intervene in order to treat them properly.”
It is learned that Catholic Church Street residents and the surrounding area contributed money to support the medical treatment of fire victims.
A landlady, Habibat Ojoolowo, said she had mobilized women in the region to make contribution to treating the victims.
“When the doctors in the general hospitals did not attend to our neighbours properly and most of them died owing to bad treatment, we had to mobilize assistance through donations so that they could be correctly treated,” Ojoolowo said.
The Ijegun Oba, Nureni Akinremi, also called for government action to guarantee that the victims were handled properly to prevent further loss of lives.
“My people in hospitals need financial assistance from the government and I also take this chance to thank the firefighters for their prompt reaction to the fire incident,” said Akinremi.
Tunbosun Ogunbanwo, director of public affairs, Lagos State Ministry of Health, said the government was on top of the situation, adding that the victims were not abandoned.
Ogunbanwo said, “The government is currently collecting the victims ‘ medical bills; some of them have high burns and yet the government is still accountable for their care.
LASEMA’s chief executive said he was in the hospitals today (Sunday) checking out some of the victims.
“Some of these families may not understand that there are different phases in the medical treatment, but if they see the pain of their family members, they may react and begin to make some wild claims. Gbagada’s burns unit and Ikeja’s Lagos State University Teaching Hospital are hospitals for professionals who can take adequate care of the victims. It is not possible to abandon them (victims).
When contacted, Oke-Osanyintolu said he had done a round of on – the-spot clinical wards to ensure that the victims received adequate medical care, adding that he till had to receive reports from the medical directors about the death of any of the victims.
Oke-Osanyintolu said, “I’m just leaving the Gbagada General Hospital and the medical workers are offering appropriate medical treatment to all the victims as I talk to you. I posted some of the doctors working with me to the Gbagada General Hospital and LASUTH to help with the treatment, as some of the victims had 80% to 90% burns.
“It comes with various types of complications when we speak about burns. I’ve made arrangements for some of the drugs they don’t have in hospitals and on Monday(today) I’m going to move advanced ambulances there.
“I did a clinical ward round on- the-spot and also spoke to relatives like Mr Gabadin, whose driver was a victim, and I assured them they shouldn’t be panicking. I can’t tell that anyone died until I receive extensive medical reports from the doctors.