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No fewer than four persons have been confirmed dead while 12 others have sustained varying degrees of injuries, following an explosion at the Onitsha Chemical Market on Tuesday.
Sources who witnessed the incident told newsmen that the explosion led to an inferno in the area, with over N850million worth of goods destroyed in the process.
The explosion occurred at about 12:45pm at the market, which led to stampede, and later fire, a source said.
He went on to add that the four deaths were as a result of stampede as traders scampered for safety.
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According to him; ‘Chairman of Onitsha South Local Government Area, Mr Emeka Orji contacted the Anambra State Fire Service boss, Martin Agbili, who deployed officers of the department from Okpoko in Ogbaru Local Government Area and that of Asaba in Delta State.
‘Also the Council Chairman contacted the DPO Fegge, Rabiu Garuba who deployed officers and men to the market to guarantee security of goods and other properties belonging to the traders,’ the source said.
A trader, who spoke to this reporter, Mr Nweke Uchenna said: ‘We were at our shops as usual when we heard a loud noise like a bomb blast and we saw thick smoke from some shops upstairs and everyone started running for safety.
‘Then people started shouting for help and we saw people carrying traders from those shops that were on fire and some were burnt badly, while some seem to have been suffocated by the smoke and the stampede.
‘We don’t know how much that has been lost to the fire but it can be estimated at N850million to about N1 billion because the goods are strong chemical products that are highly inflammable,’ he said.
The incident was confirmed by the Anambra State Police command spokesperson, DSP Toochukwu Ikenga.