More than 30 persons were burnt to death following an explosion from illegal pipeline tapping point in Omoku, Ogba/Egebema/Ndoni Local Government Area of Rivers State.
Information has it that the incident occurred on Sunday morning.
A pipeline belonging to one of the multinational oil firms operating in the area was tampered with. So, many people started using jerry cans and buckets to scoop fuel. That was when tragedy struck.
Over 30 persons were feared dead, while many more suffered varying degrees of burns and are receiving treatment in different hospitals in the area.
An eyewitness told Vanguard: “It is a very terrible incident. Imagine the death of more than 30 people at such a time as this.
“We learned that some youths bust an oil company’s 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.”
Another source 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,” the source said.
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.
He said: “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 to checkmate 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.”
Also, 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 despite their repeated campaigns for the youths to stop illegal bunkering, they paid a deaf ear.
He added: “We proclaimed that they must put a stop to it and this is the aftermath of it.
“When they bust the pipeline, fire engulfed immediately and 19 of them died instantly and about 12 in two different hospitals.”
The state police command could not mediately comment on the disaster.