President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed deep sadness over the gas explosion which led to the death of the Chairman, Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission, Professor Simon Mallam, his son and three others at Sabon Tasha area of Kaduna on Saturday.
The President’s reaction comes as the Department of Petroleum Resources says preliminary investigations have revealed that the Kaduna gas explosion was caused by illegal decanting (transfer) of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) into another cylinder by operators of the facility.
DPR Head, Public Affairs Mr Paul Osu, disclosed this in a statement on Sunday in Lagos.
“In line with our regulatory oversight on the oil and gas industry, the agency immediately mobilised our staff to the scene to investigate the cause of the explosion.
“We wish to inform the public that we are carrying out further investigations on the incident, and we will update as soon as we conclude.
“The department will continue to monitor and sensitise members of the public on the safe handling of petroleum products to prevent the occurrence of incidences like this.
“We appeal to members of the public to continue to assist in reporting the activities of illegal operators to the nearest DPR office,” he said.
Osu said the DPR was saddened by the unfortunate incident which occurred at an unlicensed LPG retail shop in Kaduna state, resulting in fatalities.
The News Agency of Nigeria, reports that several persons lost their lives and many others were burnt in the gas explosion at Sabon Tasha area of Kaduna metropolis on January 4.
The explosion occurred at 1:00 p.m., at a gas shop located by the main road opposite Total filling station.
Reacting to the incident, President Buhari said: “I am deeply touched by this unfortunate incident that claimed the lives of Professor Simon Mallam, his son and others.
“The death of the erudite Professor has robbed Nigeria of a great scientist whose services were acutely needed at a time we are increasing emphasis on science and technology for development.
“I extend my heartfelt sympathy to his family and those of other victims of the gas explosion. May God comfort these families and give them the fortitude to bear the loss,” President Buhari added In a statement released by his office.
On Saturday a gas explosion killed, injured and burnt down shops in the immediate vicinity of the explosion.
NAN reports that some residents seen crying at the scene said the explosion occurred at the gas refill centre trapping many people in the inferno.
Many shops, mostly salons, plumbing materials, boutique and others were affected.
An eye witness, Francis Yusuf, said he just left the barbing salon when the explosion occurred.
“I was leaving the saloon and left three persons waiting for their turn to cut their hair when a few seconds after I heard the blast behind me.”
Another eye witness, Mohammed Baba who said he was driving his tanker when he saw the explosion that started from the gas shop and had to reverse back.
“I just loaded product from NNPC when I saw a blast in front of me as some persons where passing in front of the shop when the explosion happened.”
Samuel Aruwan, Commissioner, Internal Security and Home Affairs, said the number of persons affected cannot be ascertained now until investigations have been carried out.
“As you can see search and rescue is in progress but we have had case of injured persons that have been rushed to the hospital for medical attention.”
He assured that the state government would stop the operation of gas sales in residential areas.
Mr Paul Aboi, Director, Kaduna State Fire Service, said that the gas explosuon took place in a compact place were there were shops operating.
He said the situation was put under control by men of the fire service in combined efforts of the Police, Civil Defence, Red Cross and the Federal Road Safety Corps.
Aboi said those who sustaind severe injuries as a result of the blast have been rushed to the hospital for intensive care.
He said several cars were affected while several building glasses where shattered.
Additional reports by NAN