THE sleepy community of Azia in Ihiala Local Government Area of Anambra State was in mournful mood yesterday as the nine bodies of the family of Charles Obidigwe, who died of burns sustained from cooking gas explosion in Lagos last month, were buried.
Mrs. Obidigwe, wife of Charles, was said to be preparing lunch for the family when the gas cylinder exploded and caught fire that engulfed the entire flat.
When men of Lagos State Fire Service arrived, the harm had been done.
The head of the family, Charles Obidigwe, 51, died instantly. But the other eight members of his family, including his sister-in-law and her son, who were staying with them, died later in a Lagos hospital.
Until his death, late Obidigwe operated a medicine store in Lagos.
When news of their death reached Azia, their home town, the community was thrown into mournful mood and it remained so until their bodies were brought a forthnight ago and buried, while funeral rites were accorded them yesterday.
Their graves littered the premises of Charles Obidigwe’s uncompleted building like a mini cemetery.
His sister-in-law and her son, who also lost their lives in the incident, were buried in another village in the town where she was married.
As a mark of respect for the deceased family, all the markets in Azia were closed and all other burial ceremonies in the community were cancelled to enable the community give the Obidigwe family a befitting burial.
Though attendance was not made compulsory for the people of the community, the Obidigwe country home at Nkwankwa village in Azia was packed full with sympathisers from all the villages in the town.
Tears flowed freely as women, men and children sobbed for hours.
In a homily delivered at the church service held in Obidigwe compound, the officiating priest, Rev. Fr. Jude Unigwe of St. Anthony’s Catholic Parish, Azia, urged the people not to question why the entire family had to perish at once, adding that it was only God that had the answer.
He told the people to be ready for their own death at all times by living a good life as nobody knew when death would come knocking and how it would come.
The deceased elder brother, Mr. Livinus Obidigwe, said: “We cannot question God. My brother was very hard working and he was loved by many in this community.
“The only thing I can say is that their souls should rest in peace.”
Late Charles’ youngest brother, Chimezie Odidiegwu, said he lacked words to express his feelings.