By Jude Michael
The killing of three students of Tansi International College, College, Awka, November 4, by lightning while playing football in the school field has been described as regrettable by the Catholic Bishop of Awka Diocese, Most Rev Paulinus Eeokafor, and the governor of Anambra State, Prof Chukwuma Soludo.
It will be recalled that nine students playing football in the school field had been struck by lightning in the evening of that day, with three being pronounced dead in the hospital, while the other six were successfully resuscitated and discharged.
As at press time two of the dead students had been taken by their parents and buried. The three students who died were from Anambra, Enugu and Ebonyi States. They are, Obi Francis Chukwunwike; Michael Uchechukwu Obeta and Emmanuel Chidubem Usulor.
Reacting to the tragic incident at the college, Bishop Ezeokafor of the Catholic Diocese of Awka, condoled with the families of the deceased students of Tansi International College and those affected by the tragedy.
Rendering his condolences to the families at St. Patrick’s Catholic Cathedral, Awka, Bishop Ezeokafor described the incident as unfortunate, sad and tragic.
‘I was at Neni on Saturday when I received a distress call from the school’s Manager informing me about what happened. He told me they had taken them to the hospital and I said it was the right thing to do.
‘After my pastoral visit on Sunday, 5th November, I proceeded to the hospital where I met those recovering from the strike. I discovered that two out of the three remains had been taken away by the families. Seeing them, you’ll know that they are very young and never anticipated what befell them. It was a sad commentary. It happened even though there were measures put in place to avert such occurrence.
‘It is quite sad. These children never believed that they would be gone by now. Nobody is even expecting them to go that way. People will be thinking about what they will become in the future and this abrupt, sad end comes. I am really pained about the ugly incident but there’s nothing we can do other than pray for quick recovery of the affected students and the repose of the deceased ones.
‘I think they were in its (lightning’s) route and also not having anything on their legs. The lightning came directly to them and the unsuspecting students paid dearly for it. They were outside playing innocently. It is sad that they left this way.
‘On behalf of the priests, religious and laity, I sympathize with the families of the deceased and pray God to give them the grace to bear the losses. Those affected, we pray for their speedy recovery,’ said Bishop Ezeokafor.
While condoling with the families, he enjoined all to always take shelter whenever there was a thunderstorm, noting that once they were inside, the effect would not be much because it must have touched the walls, windows and other things before hitting the victim. He added that it was important for one to always put on footwear, especially the ones that could hold the lightning from striking them and also avoid areas where there were transformers, current, electricity, among others.
He appealed to all to take serious precautions, noting that it could be anybody tomorrow, even as he said that sometimes things like that could be an act of God beyond human understanding.
For his part, the Anambra State Governor, Prof Chukwuma Soludo, has expressed grief over the death of the three students who were struck by lightning while playing football last weekend.
Soludo who spoke through his Press Secretary, Mr Christian Aburime, in a press statement, extended his deepest condolences to the Tansi International College community, their grieving students, as well as the bereaved families who lost their beloved children.
The statement read, ‘The death was caused by the devastating effects of electrostatic discharge from lightning that unfolded on the school grounds.
‘Governor Soludo acknowledges the profound magnitude of this loss to the state and offers fervent prayers to the Almighty to grant both the school and the bereaved families the strength to endure this irreplaceable loss.
‘To avert the possibility of such heartrending incidents in the future, Governor Soludo earnestly urges students to seek shelter indoors and abstain from outdoor activities once the rain begins to fall, as lightning can strike without warning.’
The governor gave the names of the deceased as; Obi Francis Chukwunwuike from Nteje in Anambra State; Obeta Michael Uchechukwu, from Nsukka, Enugu State; and Usulor Chidubem Emmanuel from Ezza, Ebonyi State.
The students were aged between 16 and 19 years respectively. They were among nine others who experienced the incident but could not make it alive.
Last Wednesday the Management of the college held a therapy session aimed at soothing the minds of the students from the trauma of what they experienced last weekend.