No fewer than seven persons have died under a mysterious circumstance following continues burning lignite in Umuzu Mbana, Otolo Nnewi in Nnewi North Local Government Area of Anambra State.
The lignite which sends out gas with irritating sulphurous odour, has also led to the admission of scores in different hospitals in the area.
President General of the community, Tony Afam Muodielo who made the disclosure in a press statement on Saturday, lamented the devastating effect of a dangerous chemical discovered at a site in that community sometimes in March.
He regretted that government has not done much to save his my people from the killer chemical.
According to him, a new dimension to the problem was the smoke from the site that enveloped the entire community with very offensive and irritating odour that subjected residents to suffocation every evening.
“The emission has recently become more damaging and escalating. Surroundings of the chemical site are caving in and the emission becomes stronger. We have tried to put out the fire burning underground to no avail and we decided to leave the rains to deal with it.
“But despite the heavy rains so far experienced this year, the fire keeps on raging from the ground as if the rains are fueling it and it produces thick smokes.
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“Last night, after a little rain, we were unable to sleep. The most astonishing thing is that we have been recording sudden deaths in recent time.
“Within a space of two months, we have lost seven persons and we do not known the cause of their death. But if you put two and two together, you find out that it is not natural death. We never recorded that number of deaths in the past in this community,” he lamented.
Muodielo further revealed that the incident was first discovered in December 2017 at the community’s stream site called Oduga which suddenly dried up and fire in its stead began to burn at the site, underground.
He said that youths of the area had been deployed on several occasion to put out the fire but could not.
“A team of geologists from Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University, Uli Anambra State had visited the site and discovered that there was a dangerous chemical deposited at the site with the recommendations that government authorities should as a matter of urgency quench the fire to save the community from further exposure to the dangerous chemicals,” he hinted.
The community leader called on the Federal authorities, Anambra State government and every other agency to come to the rescue of the community before the situation gets out of control.
He said it had been recommended that residents should be taking liquid milk everyday to douse the effect but decried the impossibility of poor families to afford that, saying that he did not have the capacity to buy milk for the entire villagers.