A series of catastrophic explosions rocked the Bonny-Bille-Nembe Jetty in Port Harcourt, the capital of Rivers State, on Monday, resulting in extensive damage and destruction of goods and properties worth millions of naira.
This disaster follows a history of tragic incidents at the jetty, including a fire in April 2022 that claimed several lives, including a pregnant woman and a two-month-old baby.
The jetty, a crucial transit point for riverine communities, witnessed a horrific scene as multiple explosions set ablaze over six market boats, trapping passengers.
The inferno, still blazing, has caused chaos and panic among traders and travelers at the jetty.
An eyewitness named Lartey, who spoke with Punch, reported that the fire started with an explosion on houseboats carrying substances suspected to be illegally refined oil.
The eyewitness said, “The fire actually started with an explosion. Some house boats carried liquid materials suspected to be refined oil when it started.
“The first explosion led to two other explosions in the boats. Some makeshift buildings and structures near the jetty were also affected.”
The source said he went to buy some items with which to travel with when he heard the explosion, saying hundreds of people stood afar to watch the thick black smoke billow into the atmosphere.
Some workers at the jetty and other volunteers took to self help by mixing detergents and sand in water to put out the raging fire.
He said, “As they were doing that, the fire subsided but it was inside the River so it was difficult to access the other part looking into the deep waters.
“So it it was still raging and the crowd of people were just watching helplessly as the boat let burning.”
The initial blast led to further explosions, engulfing nearby makeshift buildings and structures.
In the frenzy that ensued, traders and travelers scrambled to save whatever belongings they could.
Meanwhile, the flames continued to spread, fueled by the flammable materials aboard the boats.
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