At least 10 persons in Umueke village, Igwuruta, Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State, have been reportedly hospitalised after inhaling polluted smock from a dump site in the area.
It was gathered from community sources that the victims included three women, two men and five children.
It was further gathered that the dump site, used by the state’s Ministry of Environment, was set ablaze by unknown persons last week as the resultant smoke entered the community.
One of the residents of the community, Apostle Onyenma Phinehas, whose wife was among the persons affected, disclosed that the smoke choked many persons, leading to 10 persons, including his wife, being hospitalised.
According to Phinehas, “Starting from last week, we cannot breathe well; even at night, we cannot sleep. The smoke is too much; because of these thing, I have taken my wife to the hospital and I am spending money to treat her. The doctor said the thing has affected her lungs.
“We have been complaining of this, but the government has not done anything. The Ministry of Environment owns this place and they are aware of what we are going through. They have tested our water and discovered that we cannot drink water from this area because the dump site has polluted the whole area”, he lamented.
Similarly, another resident, Barnabas Onuka, has called on the state government to urgently put measures in place and quench out the fire.
Onuka said a long term measure of relocating the site, to where people do not live, would be the solution to forestall loss of lives in Umueke village and its environs.
He said: “We have been here for over eight years. Before, the government treats the site; but, for long, they have not been doing so and it has started affecting the people living around here.
“We are calling on the government to help us to put a control to the site. When it is raining season the smell here is unbearable and during dry season, the smock from this place affects us terribly”, Onuka appealed.