An explosion on Tuesday rocked the diocesan headquarters of the Catholic Archdiocese of Umuahia, popularly called Mater Dei Catholic Cathedral, on Azikiwe Road in Umuahia, the Abia State capital.
It was gathered that the explosion, which occurred on the church premises about 2.45pm, caused pandemonium in the area as residents, who were taken by surprise, ran for safety, according to the News Agency of Nigeria.
Sources at the cathedral revealed the explosion was caused by an old abandoned petrol tank, which had been buried underground and long forgotten.
The church gardener, after his routine clean-up, was said to have unknowingly set fire on the heap of refuse collected while cleaning the compound directly where the tank was buried.
The heat from the fire was said to have triggered the explosion, which affected roofs of houses around the cathedral.
No life was lost to the incident.
The Commissioner of Police in the state, Chris Ezike, told the NAN correspondent that personnel of the Explosive Ordinance Department of the State Command were moved to the scene of the incident.
He said in a telephone conversation, “A cleaner in the church, after sweeping the compound, set fire to the waste and the fire spread to a disused underground fuel tank, which exploded, bringing down part of a nearby fence and shattering a vehicle parked in the next compound.
“As I speak to you, the Explosive Ordinance Department and the Bomb Disposal Unit of the command have been moved to the place to ascertain that there is nothing much more than the facts that we know now.
“By tomorrow (Wednesday), when they come out with their scientific report, I will also update members of the public.”