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Benin shop owner dies of shock over Santana Market midnight fire

The shock of seeing his burnt shop in a midnight inferno that gutted the popular Santana Market along Sapele Road in Benin City, yesterday morning, claimed the life of a middle aged man.

The man, whose identity could not be ascertained, reportedly came to the market to resume business yesterday morning oblivious of the fire incident the previous night.

He was said to have suddenly collapsed and died upon seeing the burnt shops, including his.

‎The fire started at about 9.30 pm Saturday night from one of the stores inside the market, whose owner probably left the switch‎ on that caused a spark when the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) restored light to the market after four days of outage.

Following the incident, shop owners who were mainly women, wailed uncontrollably when Daily Sun visited the scene, even as charred remains of raw food, sewing machines, fridges, grinding machines and provisions littered the market.

A shop owner, Mrs Eukaria Ezeribe, who deals in clothing materials and household items such as ceramic cooking utensils, could not salvage anything from her shop.

Another woman simply referred to as Mama Ofure, a wholesale seller rice and beans, said she recently stocked her store “but now all are gone in the inferno”, she lamented, adding that‎ she could not salvage anything due to the distance from her house to the market.

One of the victims who lives close to the market said as soon as thick smoke was noticed coming out from the market, they knew something had gone wrong and immediately alerted the state fire service, but waited in vain until the NNPC fire truck arrived but could not do much since it was the only fire service that responded.

The Chairman of Ikpoba-Okha Local Government Council, Dr Eric Osayande, was on ground to assess the extent of the damage.

Dr Osayande, who addressed victims, assured them that government would investigate the cause of the fire, which he said was a first in the history of the market, with a view to preventing a reoccurrence.

He promised that the local government would call on the state government for aid.

Barely two months ago, a similar midnight fire burnt over 90 shops at the motor spare parts market at Uwelu in Egor Local Government Area of the southwestern state.

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