EXPLOSION ROCKS KADUNA
Tragedy was yesterday averted in the Kakuri area of Kaduna metropolis as residents of the area who inhaled poisonous substances suspected to be gas were rushed to the hospital where they were treated for treatment.
Sunday Sun learnt that the incident happened when a welder working along DIC Road in the Kakuri area attempted to cut open a gas cylinder when the poisonous substance exploded.
Residents of the affected area said that the incident happened at about 3.00pm and within minutes most residents were falling and passing out. Several others were gasping for breath as they inhaled the poisonous gas.
One of the residents, who identified himself as Ahmed Musa said told our reporter that the sad incident started from an emission from the cylinder in the welder's shop. 'The whole place was thrown into confusion as residents struggled to rush away from the affected areas. Many were rushed to various hospitals but those who did not pass out ran for their lives to escape the effect of the poisonous emission.'
Many of the victims were rushed to the St. Gerard Catholic Hospital, Gwamna Awan Hospital, Manek hospital among and other health centres in the area for treament.
When Sunday Sun visited some of the hospitals, the out patient and emergency wards were filled with people while the medical staff rushed up and down battling to save the victims' lives.
Dr. Elochukwu Charles , the doctor on duty at Saint Gerald Catholic Hospital, said that those mostly affected by the emission were pregnant women and they were unconscious. He said the poisonous gas inhaled by this category of the victims was capable of causing them to have stillbirths.
Dr. Charles said many of the pregnant victims were still unconscious while many others who were still having serious stomach pains were being kept under observation in the hospital, saying that 'there was a gas emission and a lot of people inhaled it and we don't know the nature of the gas yet.
'But being a poisonous gas, it almost suffocated people. We had a lot of people here, about a hundred people. They were gasping for breath and most of them we had give palliative treatment. We had to send them outside after treatment to get some fresh air outside.
'Naturally, once they take in fresh air , the gas will disappear gradually from their system. A lot of them actually got well here and they left. But some of them who could not get well spontaneously, we had to do something further to stabilize them and some of them are even still here.
'Most of them that have further problems are pregnant women. So we don't even know whether the gas is even a teratogenic kind of gas, that is the gas that can harm the baby in the womb. It can either kill the baby or harm it.
'So, we still have a lot of the victims that are pregnant women with us here, they are still having some stomach pain and dizziness. Some of them are even unconscious, like this woman here. They are just too many, It's so overwhelming and we can't see all of them at the same time. There are no deaths yet,' he said.
Most of the residents were seeing going about in face masks while others used handkerchiefs and other pieces of clothes to cover their noses when the Sunday Sun visited.
Armed soldiers and anti-riot policemen from the state anti-crime outfit, Operation Yaki have however cordoned off the area, while the welder is said to have ran away to avoid being arrested.
The Divisional Secretary for the Red Cross in Kaduna South local government, Usman Agonan, said most of the hospitals in the area were filled with children and women who inhaled the poisonous gas, pointing out that the Red Cross and other relief agencies were making efforts to evacuate the cylinder which he said was still emitting smoke from the welder's shop as at 6.30pm.
The councilor representing the area in the Kaduna South Local Government Council, Mr. Adeleye Suraju assured that after the evacuation of the cylinder the welder would be identified and necessary action would be taken against him.
Suraju appealed to the residents to remain calm and avoid the scene of the emission.
'The stench from the gas was so bad and people were just falling unconscious from its effect but thank God there has been no case of death. More than 200 people are still unconscious in hospitals but they are being revived. The doctors at the hospitals are trying their best to save the victims'