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Nine children among 19 dead in New York fire

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Nine children were among at least 19 people killed and dozens injured when a fire tore through a high-rise apartment building in New York on Sunday in one of America’s worst residential fires in recent memory.

Witnesses reported seeing trapped residents screaming for help from windows during the deadly inferno that the city’s fire chief said had been caused by a portable electric heater, leaving victims on “every floor.”

“There were a lot of kids crying, ‘Help! Help! Help!’” 38-year-old Dilenny Rodriguez, who escaped with her children, told AFP.

Mayor Eric Adams told reporters that 19 people had been confirmed dead and 63 had been wounded, including several that were in a “critical condition.”

“This is going to be one of the worst fires in our history,” he said.

“Join me in praying for those we lost, especially the 9 innocent young lives that were cut short,” he added in a later tweet.

At least 200 firefighters responded to the blaze, which broke out just before 11:00 am (1600 GMT) on the second and third floors of a 19-story building in The Bronx.

The mainly working class borough is home to a large number of immigrants and Adams said “many” of the building’s residents had been Muslims who moved to New York from Gambia.

Photographs and video posted on social media showed flames and thick black smoke billowing out of a third-story window of the brick building at East 181st Street as firefighters operated on a nearby ladder.

“It was chaos,” George King, who lives directly adjacent the building told AFP.

“I’ve been here 15 years and it’s the first time I’ve seen something like this.

“I saw the smoke, a lot of people were panicking. You could see that no one wanted to jump from the building. People were waving from the windows,” he added.

The injured were taken to five hospitals; many suffered from cardiac and respiratory arrest and severe smoke inhalation, officials said.

“The marshals have determined through physical evidence and through firsthand accounts by the residents that this fire started in a bedroom in a portable electric heater,” New York City Fire Department Commissioner Daniel Nigro told reporters.

He said that flames quickly engulfed much of the structure and that the smoke was so dense as to be “unprecedented.”

Nigro added that “very heavy” fire and smoke “extended the entire height of the building.”

“Members found victims on every floor, in stairwells,” he said.

“The last time we had a loss of life that may be this horrific was a fire which was over 30 years ago, also here in the Bronx,” Nigro added.

He explained that the fire originated in a duplex apartment on the second and third floors of the building.

– ‘Horrific’ -The door to the apartment had been left open, allowing the fire and smoke to spread, he said.

“If you close the door the smoke and fire spread is contained within that apartment instead of spreading up the stairs,” Nigro told reporters.

Buildings like this one don’t have fire escapes, he added.

Rodriguez said the smoke was so thick when she went down that “we couldn’t see.”

“They took my daughter away from me and I got panicked. Once I was walking the stairs, I saw a body on the floor that they tried to rescue. Also a dog, it was dead. And it was really devastating,” she said.

Adams, who only took office on January 1, said the fire was “truly a tragedy,” adding that many residents had been displaced.

“This is really a horrific day for us,” he said.

Nigro said the fire was the worst since a blaze at Happy Land nightclub in 1990 in the Bronx, which killed 87 people and had been caused by arson.

In December 2017, 13 people were killed in a blaze in an apartment building in the Bronx in New York City’s deadliest fire in 25 years.

It had been started by a three-year-old boy playing with a gas stove.

Sunday’s inferno comes just four days after a fire in Philadelphia killed 12 people, including eight children, in a three-story public housing building.

AFP

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Oyetola urges Osun voters to safeguard PVC ahead of guber election

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Gov. Gboyega Oyetola of Osun has urged the electorate in the state to safeguard their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) ahead of the July 16 gubernatorial election in the state.

The governor made the remarks  on Thursday during what was described as a “strategic tour” of Ila Federal Constituency Area of the state.

Oyetola also urged members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to keep their membership registration slips safe ahead of the party’s primary.

He appealed to them not to allow any individual to deceive them  with ”fake loan” to steal still their PVCs from them.

“I implore you to keep the party’s registration slip issued during the accreditation exercise and your voter’s card safe.

“With the look of things, it seems that the party will opt for direct primary, if it is so, the membership slip will be used for the exercise.

“Some people want to collect your PVC and membership slip with the pretence to give you a loan.

“They are all liars, the loan that they did not give you two years ago, they are lying to give you months to the election.

“They are promising you food now, they are liars. We started our food support programme last year April and we did not stop it.

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“We are not doing this because we want to get votes from you, but it is because of our genuine love for the people.

“Let us be prepared for the primary election of our party and the gubernatorial election,” he said.

In his remarks, the Orangun of Ila, Oba Abdul Oyedotun, said the achievements of the governor in the development of the state were enough testimonies for him to be reelected.

Oyedotun, who noted that the governor would triumph in the election, said the electorate were behind him.

“Your achievements speak for themselves and we are proud of what you have done.

“Your second term ambition will be successful and whoever tries to stand on your way, will not witness your success story.

“ Don’t despair, our ancestors were faced with travails and they emerged triumphant, you shall overcome yours too.

“Your detractors will witness your success and you will triumph over them,” the Oba said. (NAN)

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FG begins inspection of grant, Expatriate Quota renewal facilities, others

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“This is pursuant to the Second Schedule of the Marriage Act, Cap 6, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and the approved Legal Notices vide Federal Government Official Gazette Nos. 55, 56, 59, 60, 61 & 62, Volume 108 of 2021,” it added.

The notice also  states that these inspection exercises and services attracts payment of fees that are mandatory for organisations and public places of worship who do apply for such services.

“For more information on the payment process public places of  worship and companies are directed to log on to the Ministry’s website on www.ecitiz.interior.gov.ng for payment.

“For further enquiries: Please call the ministry’s e-citibiz contact centre on 07000099999(operating hours are Monday to Friday from 8am to 5pm.

“The call Centre can also be contacted during weekdays and weekends via: [email protected],ng.”

NAN reports that Expatriate Quota is granted for an initial period of three years.

It can however be renewed for further periods of two years each subject to a cap of 10 years within which time the relevant skills comprised in the position ought to have been transferred to qualified Nigerian Understudies.(NAN)

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6th Anniversary: Commissioner eulogises Yahaya Bello’s giant strides in education

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Kogi State Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Mr Wemi Jones, has eulogised Gov. Yahaya Bello on his giant strides in education sector as he celebrates his 6th year anniversary.

The commissioner in a statement on Thursday, in Lokoja commended the governor for increasing budgetary allocation to education to 30 per cent, which is above UNESCO global recommended benchmark.

‘He  congratulated him on the auspicious occasion of the second year into his second tenure in office.

”It is no gainsaying that you have excelled above every expectation in educational development and the following areas remain indelible among your quantum leaps:

”Increased budgetary allocation for education to 30 per cent which is above UNESCO global recommended benchmark.

”The establishment of specialized Confluence University of Science and Technology (CUSTECH), Osara; construction, renovation, and remodelling of GYB Model Science Colleges in all the 21 local government areas of Kogi,” he said.

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According to him, the signing of Kogi State Education Law 2020, development of the State Education Strategic Plan (SESP) 2021-2030 and Science Education Operational Plan (SEOP) 2021- 2023; and others too numerous to mention.

”Sir, you remain the unbeatable and best education-friendly governor of our times.

”I congratulate you on your ever impactful New Direction Administration as we look forward to more fruitful years of higher uplifting from GYB to PYB,” he said.

NAN reports that Yahaya Bello was sworn in as the 5th Executive Governor of Kogi State for second tenure in office on Jan. 27, 2020. (NAN)

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