Chukwudi Akasike and Afeez Hanafi
A power surge in a residence in Rumuomoi/Rumuorosi, in the Obio-Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State has claimed lives of a nursing mother, her husband and a 50-year-old cobbler.
The couple, who were said to be in their 20s, were reportedly killed after having contacts with burglar-proof bars at the entrance of their house, while six others were reportedly injured.
PUNCH Metro gathered that a transformer in the community had suddenly gave a spark, leading to power outage in the neighbourhood.
A few minutes later, a high voltage was said to have been restored by the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company, which destroyed appliances of residents.
It was learnt that the surge also led to electric shocks, during which the couple and the cobbler, identified simply as Fred, were killed.
The landlord of the house where the couple lived, Hunphrey Kinikanwo, said the power surge lasted for about 30 minutes, blaming the incident on the indifference of officials of the electricity company in the area.
Kinikanwo stated that the incident had thrown the community into panic, adding that many people were presently afraid to operate their appliances.
He said, “The incident occurred about 7am last Tuesday when PHED restored power. There had been a serious spark from our transformer and electricity was interrupted. About 10 minutes later, the power was restored with high voltage.
“It blew up our appliances, including refrigerators, fans, air conditioners and phone chargers. One of my tenants ran to my house crying that the surge had caused electric shocks. The nursing mother wanted to come out when her hand touched the burglar-proof bars and she got stuck. I ran there and used a stick to push her away.
“Before I could call the PHED office to switch off the electricity, the husband of the woman, Obinna Okereke, had also been electrocuted. About six persons were also injured. After calling the PHED, it took them more than 35 minutes before power was switched off. Appliances were burnt.”
The landlord explained that the couple, who hailed from Ebonyi State, were rushed to a hospital, where they were pronounced dead on arrival.
“A 50-year-old cobbler was also electrocuted. We went to PHED office on Psychiatric Road, but they directed us to their head office on Moscow Road.
“We met with the officials of PHED at the head office and they assured us that they would take care of the burial of the deceased. Our concern now is the welfare of the two-month-old son of the deceased couple,” he added.
An electrician, Julius Tae, said the power company could have forestalled the tragedy, but for its negligence.
“Whenever there is a spark from the company’s facility, it is expected that they should receive a signal in their office. So, they were supposed to have detected the problem and rectify it before power was restored,” he said.
A friend of the deceased couple, who identified himself as Chinedu, demanded that PHED should compensate the deceased’s families for the losses.
“It was unfortunate that a young couple met their untimely death inside their house. The husband was 26 years old,” he added.
The spokesperson for the company, John Onyi, told one of our correspondents that measures had been taken to prevent a recurrence. He added that the company had initiated discussions with the affected community.
Onyi said, “It was an accident and we have put measures in place to prevent any recurrence. We were shocked when the information reached our office. We are talking with the community with a view to reaching out to the affected families.
“Some of our officials have visited the bereaved families. Investigations are still on and we call for peace. Our men have yet to submit a report on what actually caused the accident. The incident has been reported to the police.”
The Rivers State Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Nnamdi Omoni, said he had not been briefed on the electrocution, adding that he had just returned from a journey.
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