Up to 30 Manchester United fans were feared dead after a falling power cable electrocuted them as they watched the Red Devils in action last night.
A high-voltage cable had snapped, crashed onto the metal shack where the football was being watched and electrocuted those inside.
Ukah Timothy, was one of those burned in the accident and is now being treated at the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital for severe wounds on his hands, legs and face.
“It happened at the 38th minute of the match. First we noticed a spark on the cable outside, and as everyone was scrambling to leave place, the cable fell on the roof of building. All my friends who sat beside me were killed. Many were severely burnt. I was lucky to be alive. Before I was taken to hospital, I counted eight dead bodies. I saw many in critical condition.”
Another local Ukeme Joseph estimated at least 20 people had died after the wire collapsed onto the Calabar viewing centre where many Nigerians flock to watch Premier League teams.
As many as 80 supporters are believed to have been crammed inside the building.
Another witness said:
“It happened during the match between Manchester United and Anderlecht. I heard a deafening bang. I rushed out to see what was happening. When I turned back to go inside the viewing centre, I saw a cable coming down on the centre and this electrocuted the viewers in the hall. It was a horrible sight to behold. I wish I didn’t come out to watch the match. Come to think of it, I have DStv at home but I enjoy watching matches at viewing centres. I could have been dead. I can’t believe that the people I was chatting and joking with a few minutes ago are all gone in a most anguishing way. This world is vain.”
Manchester United this morning tweeted:
“Our thoughts go out to the United fans, their friends and families affected by the tragedy in Calabar, Nigeria, yesterday.”
A statement from football’s governing body Fifa added:
“Fifa is deeply saddened by the deaths of several football fans in Calabar & offer our deepest condolences to family & friends of the victims.”
Chucks Chukwudi, whose shop is located next to the viewing centre, said:
“People started entering the viewing centre at about 7:30pm. The first half had just ended when the high tension cable cut and fell on the room.
“The centre was so crowded, and people were falling on each other when the incident happened. There were many deaths and many injuries. We called the police, and they came minutes later and evacuated the bodies.”