The Traditional Rulers Council of Okogbe Community in Ahoada West Local Government Area of Rivers State, has declared seven days of mourning in honour of those who died in the petrol tanker fire incident in the community last Thursday, just as 27 more victims have been confirmed dead in hospitals where they were inititially receiving treatment.
Paramount ruler and head of Okogbe Clan, Eze Joshua Eyiba, who announced this on Monday directed that all activities in the 26 communities that make up the clan should be suspended during the period of mourning.
“It is a terrible incident that we never expected. We have decided in the special council of traditional rulers meeting yesterday (Sunday) that a seven day mourning will be observed and we have started today (Monday).
Now, we are mourning for the dead for seven days. On Sunday, we will have an interdenominational church service to bid the dead farewell” he declared.
Meanwhile, a stakeholder of Ahoada West Local Government Area has called on the Federal Government to consider commencing work on the Mbiama-Ahoada axis of the East-West Road.
An indigene of Ekpeye Kingdom, Robbin Martins, who made the call in Okogbe after visiting the scene of the incident, said it was avoidable.
He said, “I am particularly seeing the root cause of the incident which is the abandonment of the East-West Road. The timeframe for its completion has elapsed severally because of lack of funds, according to the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs”.
In a related development, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), has confirmed that 27 additional victims of the incident have died while receiving treatment in hospitals, where they had been admitted last Thursday.
The South-South co-ordinator of the agency, Mr Emenike Umesi, who disclosed this during an interview said this brings the total figure of the dead to 162, adding that apart from that figure, the affected communities had identified some of their dead and collected their bodies for burial.
He commended the commissioner for Health, Dr Sampson Parker, who assisted in moving victims to other places where they could get treatment.
Mr Umesi said NEMA and other government agencies had gone round last Friday to the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, Braithwaite Memorial Specialist Hospital and Ahoada General Hospital, where most of the victims had been taken for on the spot assessment of their treatment.
Umesi observed that most of the victims had 70 to 80 degree burns, adding that some of them still have the chances of surviving.
He confirmed that as at Friday afternoon, the death toll had increased to 135, while the total number of victims rushed to the various hospitals initially stood at 43 persons, adding that 23 were at UPTH, 11 at BMSH and 9 victims were admitted at Ahoada General Hospital.
Mr Umesi disclosed that the Federal Government had mandated NEMA to ensure that victims who survived the tanker disaster were assisted for their quick healing and recovering.