A 45-year-old man, Esuabana Okon, two of his children, Okon Esua (14), Edet Esua (13) and his in-law, died in a kerosene explosion on Monday in Ikot Ekpo community in Calabar, Cross River.
The wife and the daughter that survived the inferno were evacuated to the Calabar General Hospital, Cross River for medical attention.
The landlord, Efiom Offiong Efanga, said:
“I had a call at about a minute to 10 O’clock that there was a fire outbreak in my compound so I had to rush down here. By the time I got here, the neighbours had succeeded in putting out the fire but they did not know initially that people had actually been burnt inside because it seems there was no cry from within.
“It was after the fire was extinguished that we discovered three persons were already dead inside. Another victim, who was also fatally burnt, was rushed to the hospital but he gave up the ghost on the way and so his dead body was brought back. The only survivor among the children is the daughter.”
The daughter had told the landlord that her mother asked her elder brother to refuel the lantern but he refused and went inside, and that some minutes later, the mum decided to send her to refuel the lantern and that as soon as she poured the kerosene into the already lit but dim lantern, there was a huge explosion so she threw the lantern away and ran out. She said the mother was outside easing herself when the explosion occurred.
A relative of the family, Mr Samuel Inyang, described the incident as mysterious.
He said that it was surprising that the girl could run out while her father and three other siblings could not, even when the door was opened.
Inyang, who suspected that the kerosene might have been adulterated, appealed to relevant government agencies to intensify efforts at bringing to an end the case of petroleum bunkering, which he said encouraged dealers to mix all types of things with kerosene.
The Cross River State Police Command is yet to comment on the incident.