Fear gripped residents of Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital when rockets accidently fired from the Nigeria Air Force Base, landed yesterday in Woji, a community in the outskirts of the city.
Residents of Woji said a loud explosion was heard at 7.18 am just as people woke up to begin their daily chores.
A witness, Emeka Eze said he was just coming out of his house when he heard the explosion and ran back to his bedroom for fear of being killed.
He said there was panic in the neighbourhood as people who had never heard such loud explosion ran helter skelter, thinking that war might have broken out.
“It was very scary. I was about stepping outside my compound when the rocket whistled by and suddenly exploded near the church.
“I ran inside my house in confusion and people started shouting out of fear because there was no way of knowing what was happening. We later found out that it was a rocket but nobody was hurt in the compound it landed.”
Another witness said, “It was about 7:00 a.m. and I was still sleeping when I heard a heavy sound which shook the building. I woke up fearing that the building had collapsed. It was later that I discovered what happened.”
The lady, who spoke to LEADERSHIP WEEKEND through the window of her apartment, said the rocket perforated the decking of the floor above her apartment before it struck a room and got wedged miraculously on the wall.
LEADERSHIP WEEKEND’s investigation, however, showed that four rockets accidentally discharged, while air force personnel tried to load a MI 35 helicopter in the early hours of the day.
While three of the rockets were said to have landed within the Air Force Base located along Port Harcourt/Aba highway, one landed at house No. 98, Woji Road, about 10 kilometres from its discharge point.
The ill-fated rocket hit the compound, which is located opposite St. Nicholas Anglican Church, when members of the congregation were having their morning service.
Although no lives were lost, the rear windscreen of a Nissan saloon car parked around the point where the rocket entered the building was shattered.
The car, with a Lagos registration number: DX 879 KRD, had been moved to the front of the building when LEADERSHIP WEEKEND visited the scene.
Out of the three rockets that landed inside the Air Force Base, one was said to have dropped near the residential quarters, another hit an electric pole while the other fell a few metres from the pole.
It was also learnt that the shells of the expended rockets had been recovered by air force authorities, while investigations had commenced to uncover the cause of the accident.