An explosion at an illicit oil refinery in Nigeria’s southern state of Imo killed more than 100 persons, according to official and local sources.
An official confirmed on Saturday that the explosion occurred late Friday at the illicit oil refinery in Egbema local government area, a border area between the southern states of Imo and Rivers, according to Xinhua news agency.
“Over 100 persons were burned beyond recognition after a fire broke out at an illegal bunkering site,” Goodluck Opiah, the Commissioner for Petroleum Resources in Imo, told Xinhua.
Unidentified charred remains littered the scene, according to Opiah, who also revealed that the government had already declared the operator of the illicit oil refinery sought to be currently absconding.
According to Collins Ajie, a community leader and President-General of the Supreme Council of Oil and Gas Producing Areas in Imo, the explosion was heard suddenly in the forest between the states of Imo and Rivers, with thick smoke engulfing the entire area.
“It’s unfortunate; a tragedy no one could have predicted,” Ajie told Xinhua over the phone. “So far, about 108 burned bodies have been counted.”
Oil is tapped from pipelines owned by oil firms and distilled into products in improvised tanks at these illegal oil refineries.
Oil pipeline vandalism and theft are common in Nigeria, resulting in significant economic losses.