A 16-year-old girl was on Thursday [Mar. 5] burnt to death in Aba, the commercial capital of Abia State, when a petrol can she was hauling burst into flames. The sad incident, eyewitnesses said, threw residents of 40 Akaranna Street, off Okigwe Road, into panic as neighbours and sympathizers fought to put out the fire which affected part of the storey building.
A tenant in one of the flats told THISDAY that the victim named Ruth and her mother made a living hawking black market petrol. She usually helped her mother haul out the cans of petrol before going to school, the tenant said. According to an witness, the late Ruth was bringing out jerry cans of petrol from her mother’s makeshift store and got too close to a woman frying bean cakes popularly known as akara. The jerry can burst into flames, he said.
“It was some minutes to 8am. I heard a loud scream and saw people running helter skelter. When I came out, I saw people trying to put out a huge fire in a gutter. Little did I realise it was a human being on fire. They said the poor girl flung the jerry can of petrol the moment it exploded. Apparently, she tripped and fell in nearby gutter which had been filled with the spilt petrol”, he added.
“By the time we managed to put out the fire, she had burnt to death. Her remains were later taken to a nearby hospital. We are so saddened by the unfortunate incident, said the witness.
Abia State Police Command Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Geoffrey Ogbonna said he was unaware of such incident. “If the matter wasn’t reported to the police in Aba, there is no way they would bring such to our knowledge,” declared Ogbonna, a Deputy Supritendent of Police (DSP).