No fewer than 20 persons were feared dead following an explosion from a vandalised oil pipeline in Omoku, Ogba/Egebema/Ndoni Local Government Area of Rivers State.
It was gathered that the incident occurred on Sunday morning, after the youths allegedly broke a pipeline belonging to one of the multinational oil firms operating in the areas.
They were reportedly using jerrycans and buckets to scoop fuel when the tragedy struck.
I was learnt that many persons suffered varying degrees of burns and were receiving treatment in different hospitals in the area.
“It was a very terrible incident. Imagine the death of 20 people in such a time. We leant some youths bust a company pipeline.
“If you go to the General Hospital and other private clinics in Omoku, you will see many of the injured people scattered all over the place in both government and private hospitals taking treatment,” a source said
Another source told our correspondent that the inferno occurred as a result of attempts by suspected oil thieves to light mosquito coils.
He stated, “The leakage was from an obsolete pipeline belonging to one of the oil companies operating in the area.”
The chairman of Niger Delta Youth Movement, ONELGA chapter, Emeka Ukwuosah, advised youths in the area to engage in meaningful activities and shun oil bunkering.
Ukwuosah stated, “Let me join in condemning the oil bunkering going on within ONELGA. And we are also calling on the security agencies to be up and doing and check what is happening within that circle.
“Secondly, we are also calling on the multinationals that own the oil facilities to overhaul their aging facilities to forestall such incidents.”
On his part, the Assistant Secretary of a vigilante group in the area, ONELGA Security Peace Advisory Council, Emeka Agbabere, blamed the incident on illegal oil bunkering.
Agbabere said the vigilante group, the Community Development Committee and youths were directed by a monarch in the area to put a stop to oil bunkering activities.
He however expressed dismay that despite their repeated campaigns for the youths to stop illegal bunkering, they turned a deaf ear.
He said, “We advised them to put a stop to it and this is the aftermath of it. When they busted the pipeline, fire engulfed immediately and 19 of them died instantly and about 12 in two different hospitals.”
When contacted, spokesperson of the state police command, Grace Iringe-Koko, promised to find out about the explosion and get back to our reporter, but she had yet to do so as of the time of filing this report.
The incident is coming two months after 35 persons feared dead in an explosion at an illegal oil refining site in Ibas Community, Emuoha Local Government Area of Rivers State.
Editor’s Note: This picture is used for the purpose of illustration.
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