From: GEORGE ONYEJIUWA,OWERRI
Tragedy struck the Umunakara -Imerienwe autonomous community in Ngor -Okpala council area of Imo State, at the weekend, after five persons were confirmed dead with several others still battling for their lives in the hospital after consuming the local gin popularly called “Ogogoro” allegedly from methanol poisoning.
This was just as Mr. Uwadiegwu Eze, an indigene of the village, the shop owner from where the victims had bought the local gin, known as Ginback, has fled from village.
Daily Sun reliably gathered from indigenes of the community, had earlier patronised Mr. Eze from last Tuesday, started experiencing strange stiffness of the body and partial blindness at the weekend which had culminated in the death of five of the victims.
It was equally learnt that the shop owner, who is now on the run, usually procure his local white gin from neighbouring Rivers State, but had apparently added high quantity of methanol into the gin in order to make more profits.
According to the village chairman, Mr. Livinus Igbo, he disclosed that the victims, especially the deceased, had complained of excessive headaches, abdominal discomforts, partial blindness before their eventual death.
He also stated that it was not only indigenes of the village who were affected, but several of others from neighbouring villages as they also patronise Eze.
But for the quick intervention of Dr. Toe Ekechi, who had sent in a medical team from state Ministry of Health to the community, to save those who were still battling for survival, the casualty figure would have been higher.
Hhead of the medical team, Dr. Okeji A.C, Director of Public Health,in the ministry, who arrived with an ambulance in the village, had expressed shock at the high numbers of affected persons said that the peculiarity of the anatomy of the deceased were different from those who had survived.
The medical team could only evacuate the most serious ones to the state specialist hospital in Owerri, while the Okeji also made arrangements with the Head Nurse of the Community’ Primary Health Centre to be the first responder to new cases and to report back to the Medical team.
He disclosed that the Ministry will be on top of the situation to forestall any further mortality, while in subsequent time, a post-mortem would be carried out on the deceased to help them in the course of their medical investigations.
Dr. Okeji, however lamented that despite the several episodes of fatalities of methanol poisoning arising from Local Gin Consumption in various parts of the country, people still patronise distillers who use methanol to boost production of the Gin in order to make abnormal profits.
Those who had already died are Daniel Nwosu Jnr., male, 45, a native of Umunakara-Imerienwe who died November 18 at St Augustine’s Hospital Ulakwo, Friday Osuji, 70, a native of Amafo-Imerienwe who died on November 17, at home, Ifeanyi Njoku, 31, a native of Umuowa-Imerienwe who died November 18 at home, Benjamin Okoroafor, a native of Umunam-Imerienwe who died November 18 at St Augustine’s Hospital, Ulakwo and Madam Adanna Iheanacho, 60, who died on November 17 at home.
However, on Saturday, eight other victims were rushed to Uchenna clinic along Egbu road in Owerri.
Chief Medical consultant of the clinic, Dr. Ezimefula Andrew, who confirmed receiving victims of the poisonous local gin, said that about a eight persons were transferred to the clinic from St. Augustine’s Hospital Ukakwo and that one of them is already blind, while others have symptoms of methanol poisoning.