October 19, 2018
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On Monday October 1, a strange geological occurrence caused an eruption of fire and some substances from the earth around Katampe, Abuja. The incident caused panic in the area.

Volcanic Eruption – Daily Trust

Our reporter visited the site where he found many questions surrounding the incident and people taking pieces of the unknown emission for ‘medicinal use’

Barely a month after earth tremors occurred in Mpape, a volcanic-like eruption has occurred in the area. The incident happened close to bridge along Ejo Obo Estate Road in Katampe on Monday, when the nation was celebrating its independence anniversary.

But unlike a volcano that happens on mountains, this eruption was from a valley, from which substances were emitted and a crack appeared on the surface some way off from the eruption.

The eruption, which occurred underneath an electric pole, has left residents apprehensive as several people trooped to the scene to take a look. Though the scene was cordoned off, there were no security personnel in sight as residents broke off pieces of the substance, claiming that it could cure ailments.

Residents recount experience

One of the witnesses, Loretta Raphael, said she could not go near the scene due to fear as the place was covered in smoke. Loretta, who excavates sand from the river near the scene of the incident, dropped her bowls and shovels before taking to her heels when she discovered the smoke on Monday.

She said an official of the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company, who was installing electricity poles in the area alerted them, telling them to run away from the vicinity. She said the official thought the smoke was caused by electrical installations.

“As we come here, we dropped our bowls to be carrying the sand, we just stand there later we see a NEPA man standing in front. The man tell us to run, then we started running,” she said in Pidgin English adding that they did not return to the place until the next day.

So shaken by the incident Loretta was that two days after, she still could not go to the scene.

“No be small thing! If you see race wey we pick. I love my life ooh! If you see smoke, the smoke plenty but we did not see the fire, only the smoke,” her partner, Christiana Andrew said also in Pidgin English.

Another witness, Aminu Kano, said the fire from the ground was coal-like and not ‘normal fire.’

“It was whitish like that of welders and was making noise with thick smoke,” Aminu said through an interpreter.

Aminu, who said he was about to relieve himself when he saw the smoke, added that the fire did not spread but was burning seriously at a particular portion resulting in thick smokes. He feared it could have escalated if it had occurred during the harmattan season.

“When I finished defecating it was still on fire before I left for my house because I did not know what was happening and who to tell. I have never seen anything like that before. It was like charcoal fire burning inside the ground in a portion of the ground around the electric pole,” he said.

Hashimu Yusuf is still shaken by the incident as he has not been to his farm, opposite the scene, since the occurrence.

“I am afraid because nobody knows who started the fire. I have not seen something like this before. If I know the person that started the fire, then I would not have been afraid. I am afraid because I do not know the cause and implications but I am sure it came from God,” Yusuf said.

Just like Yusuf, the incident has left Moses Abu petrified as he could only watch from a distance.

“I was afraid, I could not stay here when I came on Tuesday, I ran back, even now I am still scared,” Abu said.

Abu who also witnessed the incident when it occurred on Monday said the fire lasted for several minutes though he could not say how the fire was put out.

“It happened on Monday between 10am and 11am. I stood here observing it before I left. When I came here on Tuesday the fire had stopped,” he said.

“When it was burning, I thought it was [an]electric wire. We stood here for some minutes, the heat was very strong, and it was the heat from the smoke that burnt the grasses. It was something very hot like a coal fire under the ground. I have not seen something like this. It is possible that it could be related to the earth tremor that recently occurred. Nothing is impossible,” he said.

Unlike Abu, Lucky Paul said the earth tremor that occurred led to the incident which he described as magma. Magma, according to National Geographic, originates in the lower part of the earth’s crust and in the upper portion of the mantle. Most of the mantle and crust are solid, so the presence of magma is crucial to understanding the geology and morphology of the mantle.

The earth is divided into three general layers; the mantle is the thick, middle layer of the earth different from the core, the superheated centre and the crust, which is the top layer which we live.

Community leader speaks

Meanwhile the district head of Katampe, Alhaji Adamu Diga, said the residents were apprehensive about the incident but normalcy has been restored.

“Nobody knows what happened. People were passing and hearing noise like something was moving inside the ground. They went to check and saw smoke,” that was how it was discovered on Monday, he said adding that nobody could tell how it came to being.

Diga, who spoke in Hausa, said he informed the Emir of Bwari who in turn contacted the Bwari Area Council Chairman who informed the FCT Minister Muhammad Musa Bello before they visited the community on Tuesday.

“The people were scared but they are now calm. We have already informed the highest authority and they have observed what happened,” he said.

Ibrahim Umar, who took officials of the NGSA to the scene, said they have taken samples from the ground to be examined.

What we suspect – FG

Daily Trust reports that the FCT Minister visited the area along with his Mines and Steel counterpart Abubakar Bawa Bwari and the Director General of the Nigerian Geological Survey Agency (NGSA) Alex Ndubuisi Nwegbu.

The NGSA boss had indicated that a malfunction in the electrical installation around the area may have caused the fire incident.

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According to Nwegbu, “What we are suspecting is that the fusion coincides with the position of the pole, so we are suspecting that perhaps the electric pole must have experienced short circuiting where the heat melts the synthetic material which could be asphalt or something else. Until we subject it to an analytical test, then we can conclusively tell you what material this is made of. So we are going to bore down to know the extent to which this material is buried down and from there we will draw our own judgment.”

Sunday Akinseye

is the Lifestyle Editor at dkmngr. he is a blogger, and social media addict.