TRAGEDY struck in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital on Saturday, when a fire outbreak claimed the lives of a couple and their four children.
The fire, which was said to have been ignited by an explosion, took the lives of the victims while they were asleep.
Though the identity of the couple could not be immediately ascertained, the father of the four children was a taxi driver while his wife was a petty trader.
SUNDAY PUNCH learnt that the incident, which occurred around 1.45am, also affected a large part of the building located at No. 17, New Estate Road, Railway Quarters.
Property worth millions of naira was also lost to the inferno that engulfed the eight-flat building.
It was gathered that the children of the couple, (three boys and a girl) were of ages 22, 17, nine and seven before they met their untimely death.
An eyewitness said two other children had travelled out of Port Harcourt to sit for their West African Senior School Certificate Examination when the incident happened.
However, the landlord of the building (name withheld), who spoke on the incident, stated that he was woken up by a sound, adding that the whole building was on fire before he could realise what had happened.
Describing the incident as unfortunate, the landlord said it would have been better for the house to be razed than for the inferno to kill six persons in one fell swoop.
“It is unfortunate and heart bleeding. It would have been better for the whole compound to burn than to lose the six family members,” he said.
A tenant, who identified himself as Victor, explained that the inferno began from the victims’ flat before spreading to other flats.
According to him, while their neighbours were able to escape, the victims could not because they were already fast asleep when the fire became intense.
Residents of the area where the incident occurred wailed the moment sympathisers mentioned the names of the children affected by the fire.
When contacted, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Mrs. Angela Agabe, said she was aware of the incident but had yet to get details from the Divisional Police Officer in charge of the area.