Explosion from Vandalised Fuel Pipeline Kills 20 in Rivers

No fewer than 20 persons have lost their lives, following an explosion from an illegal oil tapping point 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 area.

Many, it was gathered, started using jerry cans and buckets to scoop fuel when the tragedy struck.

An eyewitness said while 20 persons were feared dead, many suffered varying degrees of burns and were receiving treatment in different hospitals in the area.

“It is a very terrible incident. Imagine the death of 20 people in such a time. We learned 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,” the source added.

A source who spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity said the inferno occurred as a result of attempts by suspected oil thieves to light mosquito coils.

“The leakage was from an obsolete pipeline belonging to one of the oil companies operating in the area”, said the source.

Speaking, 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 checkmate what is happening within that circle.

“Secondly, we are also calling on the multinationals that own the oil facilities to overhaul their ageing 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 there.

He, however, expressed dismay that repeated campaigns for youths to stop illegal bunkering had not yielded any result

He stated, “We proclaimed that they must put a stop to it and this is the aftermath of it. When they burst the pipeline, fire engulfed immediately and 19 of them died instantly and about 12 in two different hospitals.”

When contacted, the spokesperson for the state Police command, Grace Iringe-Koko, said the incident had not been reported, adding that she would find out and get back to our reporter.

Iringe-Koko, a Superintendent of Police, had yet to do so as of the time of filing this report on Tuesday afternoon.

Source: Our Heritage Reporter