High-tension cable kills two in Calabar

At least two persons have been electrocuted in the Calabar South axis of the Cross River State capital after a high-tension cable fell on the roof of a building, housing about nine families.

It was learnt that the incident, which happened at about 8pm on Monday, was the second of such in less than two months.

Eight persons had been killed on April 20, 2017, while several others got injured after a high-tension cable fell on the roof of a football viewing centre.

It was gathered that officials of the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company had kept attempting to rejoin a loosely-knit cable in front of No. 14, Adak Uko Street, in Calabar South.

In the latest incident, two buildings, housing nine families, including two landlords, got burnt, while properties worth millions of naira were destroyed.

Narrating the incident, one of the residents of the building, Mr. Emmanuel Ibanga, said one of the buildings caught fire as soon as the cable landed on the roof.

He said in attempting to escape from the burning building, the two deceased – a trader identified as Rebecca and an engineering student in the Cross River University of Technology, David – stepped on the high-tension cable.

Ibanga said he was able to escape along with his four children by scaling the fence.

He said, “Two people died instantly as a result of the incident. They stepped on the high-tension cable in front of the building while attempting to escape. I was only able to escape by scaling the back fence with my four children. I could not rescue my properties. Some got burnt while hoodlums took advantage of the situation to loot the others.”

A pharmacy shop owner in the burnt building, Mr. Itoro Akpan, said he lost all his drugs and other properties to the inferno.

Akpan blamed PHED for the disaster.

A resident of the area, Mr. Joshua Umoh, said officials of the Cross River State Fire Service were informed of the fire disaster but an official claimed that the fire service did not have water to put out the fire.

One of the landlords, Mr. Richard Ikpeme, said the cable had shown sign of weakness when it first dropped sometime in July.

Ikpeme, a father of five, said the incident kept recurring adding that during the last attempt at rejoining the cable, he raised the alarm, informing PHED officials that danger was looming, but he was ignored.

Meanwhile, the acting Chief Executive Officer of PHED, Mr. Kingsley Achife, has, on behalf of the company, commiserated with the families of those who died.

In a statement issued on behalf of the CEO by the Manager, Corporate communications, PHED, Mr. John Onyi, the company expressed displeasure over the incident.

Achife assured the community that the said feeder had been isolated to ensure that lives and properties were secured.

“The CEO seized the opportunity to further inform members of the public and indeed the customers, to always adhere to safety rules by not erecting any structure under PHED high-tension lines adding that a series of letters have since April 2015 been written to relevant authorities on why people should not encroach on PHED’s right of way.”

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