Eighteen persons have been injured, while two others are on critical condition, after a gas cylinder exploded in the Central Bank of Nigeria’s office in Calabar, the Cross River State capital.
The explosion, which happened at about 11am on Friday, shattered the CBN banking hall and caused traffic jam on roads around the bank between 11am and 2pm as security operatives assisted officials of the state Fire Service in bringing the situation under control.
Thousands of passersby and commuters had scampered for safety after the explosion, concluding it was a bomb blast.
But the Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr. Henry Fadairo, said that the explosion was caused by gas cylinders in the CBN office.
He said, “The team of expert handling the situation confirmed to me that 18 persons were injured while two others are said to be in a critical situation.
“The explosion was caused by gas cylinders in the CBN. It is not a bomb blast as it is already being speculated in some corners.
“The police in company of the Navy, Army, FRSC and the Civil Defence were on ground to help the state Fire Service to bring the situation under control.
“We also assisted the medical team to convey the victims to the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital where they are currently being attended to.”
Ndubuisi, however, said that the sound of the explosion was too heavy, adding that it caused panic within the area.
“The explosion occurred around 11am this morning. The explosion was too heavy to behold. I am afraid that explosion would claim the lives of CBN staff because it was too heavy,” he said.
A nurse attached to the state fire service, who preferred not to be named, said that she prayed for the victims not to die because some of them were badly injured.
“While we were trying to convey the victims to the bus, some of them were bleeding badly. I am praying that most of them do not die because the explosion really affected them,” she said.
The CBN office is currently under tight security with armed policemen, while normal vehicular movement has been restored..
At the gate of the bank, relatives of staff were seen crying. They demanded to see their relatives working in the bank.
When approached, an official of the bank declined comment, saying, “We are traumatised right now. No one can talk.”
The Acting Inspector General of Police in charge of Zone Six, Calabar, Mr. Baba-Adisa Bolanta, who also inspected the scene, said the explosion was suspected to be from the gas in the central air-conditioning unit.
“This is just an initial assessment, and it is not confirmed yet. It is when a final result has been given that we will confirm what really happened,” he said.
Also, the Director-General of State Emergency Management Agency, Mr. John Inaku, described the disaster as unfortunate.
He appealed to the public to remain calm as relevant security agencies were on top of the situation.
Inaku also visited the Navy Hospital and University of Calabar Teaching Hospital to visit the injured persons.[Punch]