- Govt blames formalin chemical, rodent hunters •Govt hammer may fall on expensive burial programmes, as Obiano storms hospital, orders inquiry•
BY NNAMDI OSELOKA in Awka•
Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State has paid an unscheduled visit to the Enugwu-Ukwu General Hospital, in Njikoka Council area of the state, especially the mortuary section where more than fifty corpses were burnt beyond recognition few days ago.
The visibly unhappy governor after assessing the situation ordered an inquiry into the mystery fire outbreak with a view to unravelling the cause and to forestall a reoccurrence in future.
In his reaction to the bizarre fire incident, the state Commissioner for Health, Dr Joe Akabuike blamed it on formalin -a somewhat inflammable chemical used in preserving dead bodies.
That because of the inflammable nature of the substance, very dry and airy harmattan weather it was easy for the fire to spread quickly and cause so much damage within a short time before it was eventually brought under control.
While confirming that the mortuary section had no electricity, hence could not blame it on any electrical sparks, Dr Akabuike said it was revealed that some youths hunting rodents and small game like grass-cutters had set fire within the bushy mortuary area to force the animals there out of their habitats for easy catch.
A member of one the families who lost bodies of their loved ones in the inferno who gave his name simply as Dr Ikenna lamented that his family has been left at crossroads on what to do over the charred corpse.
He explained amidst suppressed agony that the remains of his uncle who died about three months ago in the United States of America (USA) and was brought back to Nigeria for burial was among those burnt beyond identification in the fire incident.
That the corpse was kept in that mortuary for preservation while a befitting house worthy of his social stature and accomplishments was being hurriedly erected in their village (names withheld) in Njikoka council area of the state.
The large number of corpses in the morgue was said to have been as a result of policies of some communities and churches that insist that no burial should be postponed once the remains had been buried. Or such family would not be allowed to carry out the ceremony ever again. More so, virtually all communities in the state outlawed any burial within the month of December till the day after New Year’s Day.
So the governor’s panel of inquiry could lead to change some of these policies.