Two staff of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, have been confirmed dead and 25 others critically injured, after a gas cylinder exploded in the Central Bank of Nigeria’s office in Calabar, the Cross River State.
A statement by CBN’s Ag. Director, Corporate Communications, Isaac Okorafor, confirmed that he fire, which broke out at about 12 noon in the banking hall of the premises, was apparently caused by a gas explosion from the air conditioners in the building which is undergoing some refurbishment at the moment.
“As soon as the incident occurred, the CBN emergency alert system was activated, the Fire Service was called in, and the fire was immediately brought under control.
“Following the explosion and fire, about twenty five (25) persons sustained various levels of injury, and are currently receiving treatment at hospitals in Calabar. Four of the injured have been discharged.
“We are, however, very saddened to confirm that two of the critically injured, a CBN staff and a construction worker, have died at the hospital. We are now working with the bereaved families to determine next steps. More details will be made known to the public in due course.
The explosion 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.
The State Commissioner of Police, Henry Fadairo, said that the explosion was caused by gas cylinders in the CBN office, stating that the team of expert handling the situation confirmed to him 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,” Fadairo 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..
The Acting Inspector General of Police in charge of Zone Six, Calabar, 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, 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.