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Fire razes 400 corpses in Anambra mortuary

By Nneka Nwogwugwu

Fire has razed over 400 corpses at the mortuary section of the General Hospital, Onitsha, Anambra State.

The fire, which lasted about three hours on Saturday, razed the mortuary building located behind the hospital facility.

The fire was said to have emanated from a burning bush behind the morgue.

The Punch gathered that when the fire started, mortuary attendants poured water mixed with detergent to stop the flame.

However, when the fire escalated, they called the state fire service.

Families who deposited corpses in the mortuary lamented the situation while some, who had come to carry their corpses for burial, burst into tears when they saw that the mortuary was in ruins.

One of them, Charles Ozor, told the Punch, “We came to take the corpse of a community member for burial only for us to see that the corpses in the morgue had been burnt beyond recognition. We are confused; we don’t know what to do.”

An auxiliary worker also added that the morgue had been contracted to a private operator.

The operator of the morgue, who identified himself simply as Emma, said, “I had gone to Awka to bring some corpses. While I was there, I was informed about the fire on the phone and I rushed down immediately. Before I arrived here, the fire had done a lot of damage.

“The fire burnt both fresh and abandoned corpses packed inside the morgue. The chemicals we used in preserving the corpses must have aggravated the fire. The chemicals are highly inflammable and they burn faster than fuel.”

The Director of the Anambra State Fire Service, Mr Martin Agbili, who confirmed that the fire was from bush burning, added that firefighters battled to stop the fire from spreading to surrounding buildings.

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