Nigerian oil refinery blast kills at least 80 – The Citizen

At least 80 people were killed in an explosion at an illegal oil refinery in southern Nigeria, emergency services said Sunday.

The blast occurred late Friday at the illegal site between the southern oil states of Rivers and Imo, police said.

“We have recovered at least 80 badly burned bodies at the scene,” Ifeanyi Nnaji of the National Emergency Management Agency in the area told AFP, adding that the toll could rise.

“We learned that many bodies are in nearby shrubs and forests because some illegal operators and their patrons wandered to safety.”

Many people had “severe burns,” he said, adding that some later died at the hospital.

Nnaji said several incinerated cars and jerry cans used in scooping up sets of crude and petroleum products covered the scene of the massacre.

Local media reported that more than 100 people, mostly young people, were burned.

Police confirmed that the explosion occurred late Friday at the site of an illegal refinery where operators and their patrons had gathered for business, but did not provide figures on how many died.

Idris Musa, head of the state-run National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency, told AFP that an investigation was underway.

He said the blast “claimed several lives, especially those involved in illegal oil refining and bunkering”.

An NGO in the oil-producing Niger Delta said bodies of the victims occupied the area but could not immediately say how many were killed.

“Several bodies burned without recognition lay on the ground while others who may have tried to run for safety were seen hanging from some tree branches,” said Fyneface Dumnamene, executive director of Youths and Environmental Advocacy Center.

– Hundreds of illegal refineries –

The incident is the latest to hit oil-rich Nigeria in recent years.

Pipeline fires are common in Nigeria, in part because of poor maintenance, but also by thieves who destroy pipelines to siphon off gasoline and sell it on the black market.

Crude oil is applied from a web of pipelines owned by large oil companies and refined into products in makeshift tanks.

According to industry sources, Nigeria loses about 200,000 barrels of crude oil daily to oil thieves, vandals and illegal refiners.

Most people in the Niger Delta live in poverty, even though the country is the largest oil producer on the continent, with a production of about two million barrels per day.

Hundreds have been killed in the past by stealing and illegal refining techniques known as bunkering.

The worst explosion of the pipeline in Nigeria occurred in the southern city of Jesse in October 1998, killing more than 1,000 villagers.

The government has deployed the army to raid and destroy illegal refineries in the Niger Delta as part of measures to stop stealing.

But the government’s fight has yielded no results, as hundreds of illegal refineries still occupy the swamps, creeks and waters of the impoverished Niger Delta, causing spills and pollution of the environment.

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Nigerian oil refinery blast kills at least 80 – The Citizen

Source link Nigerian oil refinery blast kills at least 80 – The Citizen

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