*Govt hammer may fall on expensive burial programmes, as Obiano storms hospital, orders inquiry
From Chuks Moses, Awka
The Anambra State governor, Willie Obiano has paid an unscheduled visit to the Enugwu-ukwu General Hospital, in Njikoka Council area of the state, especially the mortuary section where more than fifty corpses were burnt beyond recognition few days ago.
The visibly unhappy governor after assessing the situation has ordered an inquiry into the mystery fire outbreak with a view to unraveling the cause and to forestall a reoccurrence in future.
Sources said the inquiry might lead to policies that could stem situations that pile up bodies in morgues, and others that lead to expensive burial rites in the State.
In his reaction to the bizarre fire incident, the state Commissioner for Health, Dr Joe Akabuike, blamed it on formalin – a somewhat inflammable chemical used in preserving dead bodies, noting that because of the inflammable nature of the substance, very dry and airy harmattan weather it was easy for fire to spread quickly and cause so much damage within a short time before it was eventually brought under control.
While confirming that the mortuary section had no electricity, hence the fire could not blame it on any electrical sparks, Dr Akabuike said it was revealed that some youths hunting rodents and small game, like grass-cutters, had set fire within the bushy mortuary area to force the animals there out.
A member of one the families who lost bodies of their loved ones in the inferno who gave his name simply as Dr Ikenna lamented that his family has been left at crossroads on what to do over the charred corpse.
He explained amidst suppressed agony that the remains of his uncle who died about three months ago in the United States of America (USA) and was brought back to Nigeria for burial was among those burnt beyond identification in the fire incident.
He said the corpse was kept in the mortuary for preservation while a befitting house worthy of his social stature and accomplishments was being erected in their village in the Njikoka council area of the state.
The large number of corpses in the morgue was said to have been as a result of policies traditional and religious policies. In addition, virtually all communities in the state have outlawed any burial within the month of December and New Year’s Day.