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Fire: Pandemonium in Rivers amid explosion in PH’s Slaughter Market

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Four die in Osun monarch’s palace, Kano building infernos

RESIDENTS of Okujagu area and its environs in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, were running away from their residences, offices and shops following a pandemonium that broke out when the popular Slaughter Market suddenly went up in flames after two explosions within two minutes, yesterday.

  Hoodlums also cashed in on the stampede to loot shops while the inferno raged while goods and properties were being destroyed.

  Many people sustained fatal injuries with residents in fear that scores of deaths will be recorded from the casualties, currently receiving treatment in nearby hospitals.

  Eyewitnesses say the hoodlums also brutalised firefighters from Federal Fire Service who arrived the scene to put out the fire.

  Commander of Federal Fire Service in Rivers State, Abdullahi Alfa Audu, confirmed the attack while calling on security agents to track down those behind the explosion and the fire outbreak.

“You know the fire call and we turn up as usual to fight it. On getting there, we already position our vehicle to start fighting the fire. All these hoodlums started stoning them and beating them. They (fire fighters) now jumped into their vehicle to move. In the process of moving, one of the firemen fell. As he fell down, they (hoodlums) held him and started beating him with machetes,” he said.

  Similarly, one person, who was identified as Lukuman Omoola, was killed when a section of the palace of Oba Olalekan Akadiri, the Akinrun of Ikirun went up in flames, yesterday afternoon.

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  Explaining that the inferno started when a group of hoodlums stormed the palace chanting war songs, eyewitnesses say the victim was among the monarch’s guards who were making frantic efforts to prevent the entire palace from being burnt down.

  There was also a shootout that ended only when security agents arrived.

  According to them, the invaders were working for a group involved in the obaship tussle that has been tearing the town apart, between Gboleru Ruling House and Obaara Ruling House, since the stool became vacant after the last oba’s demise.

In another development, three children died when fire razed a one-storey residential building in the Kabuga Yan Azara area of Kano State.

  An eyewitness, Ibrahim Lawan, who resides in one of the apartments in the building, said the fire started from the first apartment, adding that the inability of the residents to alert firefighters to the fire incident on time led to the fire spreading to adjoining apartments.

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