There was confusion at Ogba Junior Grammar School, Lagos, on Thursday after about 22 pupils fell unconscious.
PUNCH Metro learnt that the incident was caused by a gaseous substance emitting from a neighbouring laboratory, close to the school. The chemical was said to have engulfed the entire school.
When our correspondent visited the school premises, it was deserted. However, a security guard, who did not identify himself, said the incident occurred around 1pm.
He said, “I was just by the gate when I perceived this offensive smell. I quickly ran to a corner and covered my nose with my shirt.
“Pupils came running, saying some of their colleagues had fainted. When the smell subsided, teachers rallied around and rushed them to a hospital.
“I don’t know the exact number of pupils affected but they were over 20. A few minutes later, emergency officials came around to attend to the victims.”
Panic-stricken teachers reportedly fled in different directions, using clothes to cover their nostrils so as not to be affected by the foul smell.
Moments later, the teachers rushed four of the pupils to Blue Cross Hospital, Ijaiye Road, Ogba, Lagos, while the others were attended to by emergency officials.
PUNCH Metro learnt that the rescue officials went around the compound in a bid to identify where the smell emanated from.
Our correspondent learnt that the odour was traced to Ogba Shopping Arcade, Ijaiye Road, which shares a fence with the affected school.
Director, Lagos State Fire Service, Razaq Fadipe, said it was discovered that a photo laboratory located in the complex was emitting the substance.
He said, “On getting to the school, 22 students were unconscious. LASAMBUS was able to revive most of them and their parents took them home.
“Four were not alright and had been taken to Blue Cross Hospital. We were able to trace the odour to the complex which shares a fence with the school.
“We spotted the laboratory where the smell was coming from and the place has been cordoned off. Investigations are still on.”
When asked why it was only those in the school that were affected by the chemical, Fadipe said it was probably because the lab faced the school directly.
PUNCH Metro learnt that the matter had been reported to the police while the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency had taken up the case.
An official of LASEPA, who wished to remain anonymous, said, “We will revisit the laboratory on Friday (today). If it is discovered that the laboratory was run illegally, then those running the place will be prosecuted.
“However, it is too soon to jump into conclusions; we will inform the public of our findings.”
When our correspondent visited Blue Cross Hospital, a nurse on duty said the pupils had been revived and transferred to the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital.
“Four children were brought here and we were able to stabilise them before transferring them to LASUTH. We don’t know the nature of the chemical they inhaled,” she said.
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