The River State Police Command has ordered a full scale investigation into Wednesday’s suspected gas explosion at the popular Port Harcourt Mall consequent upon which five persons are said to be in a critical condition.
This is as the State Government has assured victims of the incident of adequate medical treatment, saying the fire outbreak was regrettable.
Recall that no fewer than five persons (all males) sustained injuries when a gas explosion ignited fire at the busy mall located at Old GRA axis; just few meters away from the Government House, Port Harcourt.
The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Nnamdi Omoni while confirming the incident ruled out any semblance of terrorist attack.
Omoni, a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), said the explosion was caused by a licking gas pipe in one of the kitchens of the shopping mall; adding that those injured were receiving treatment.
“There was gas explosion at the Port Harcourt Shopping Mall leaving five persons seriously injured. They are currently receiving medical attention. We have been able to restore normalcy there and people are going about their normal duties.
“It is not a terrorist attack. It has no semblance of terrorist attack or attack from outside or anywhere. No life was lost. So there is no cause for alarm.
“The Commissioner of Police has ordered an investigation to ascertain the real cause of the incident. But preliminary investigation shows that it is a gas explosion,” the police image maker stated.
It was leant that all five victims were workers in the kitchen, and while one lost a leg and another arm as a result of the explosion; they were rushed to the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH).
Earlier on Wednesday, Head of Department, Accident and Emergency, RSUTH, Dr. Lawson Ndu said that the victims were transferred to the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital (UPTH), as the former does not have the facility to handle burns beyond 30 per cent.
Our reporter who visited the mall yesterday morning said business activities had resumed at the mall, but that the facility witnessed low patronage.
Meanwhile, Secretary to the Rivers State Government, Dr. Tammy Danagogo while inspecting the scene of the explosion on Wednesday evening, said the fire has been contained, even as he sympathised with the victims.
The SSG said Governor Nyesom Wike had directed him to conduct an on the spot assessment because of the importance of the facility.
He expressed happiness that the management of the mall had been able to contain the fire, assuring that those injured in the incident will receive adequate medical treatment.
Danagogo requested the management of the Shopping Mall to meet with the State Government yesterday (Thursday) at the State Secretariat to further discuss other aspects of the incident and possible areas of intervention by the State.
In her remarks, Mrs Chioma Okorie, Manager of Port Harcourt Shopping Mall, said that the fire incident broke out in a kitchen of one of the shops in the facility.
Okorie further said that the fire-fighting equipment and officials of the mall helped in putting out the fire.
The explosion which occurred few minutes past 4pm on Wednesday had dampened business activities at one of the city’s popular shopping mall as both workers and customers were on Wednesday evening asked to evacuate the building to allow fire fighters gain easy access to do their job..