The Federal Government has said 15 people of Umuozu community in Otolo a suburbs of Anambra State, lost their lives to gully erosion in the area.
Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Abubakar Bwari, who was drawn to the gas emission from exposed coal seam in the community, dispatched a team of officers from the ministry to visit the scene for preliminary inspection and hold discussion with the affected community.
The team observed that the gully erosion led to some coal seams which were exposed with emitting gases, adding that there was also intermittent fire flares from the exposed coal seams, which commenced around December 2017.
According to the minister, “Coal deposits are known to contain several gases that are highly toxic and injurious to human health and environment.
“In this case, the deaths could be as a result of the coal releasing carbon dioxide and other gases that if inhaled could cause harm to human beings.
Further inspections also revealed that the disaster in that vicinity was not related to mining operations.
Bwari continued, “In this light, the ministry has ordered further investigation on the effect of this on humans and the environment.
“This is to ascertain the type of gas as well as proffer adequate solutions so as to curb the situation. In order to ascertain the effect on the ecosystem, samples of the coal and water were taken from the affected community for further investigations.”