• Friday, March 01, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

25 feared dead in Rivers illegal oil refinery tragedy

One month after mass death, oil disaster-prone community in Rivers in flames

A devastating explosion rocked Omoku, Rivers State, claiming the lives of no fewer than 25 individuals at an illegal oil tapping point in the Ogba/Egebema/Ndoni Local Government Area.

The incident unfolded on a fateful Sunday morning, triggered by youths breaching a pipeline owned by a multinational oil corporation.

Desperation led them to utilise jerrycans and buckets, scooping fuel until catastrophe struck.

An anonymous source who spoke to Punch newspaper lamented the grim toll of the incident, revealing the scale of the tragedy. “It’s unimaginable—the loss of 25 lives at once…these youths breached the company’s pipeline,” the source stated, highlighting the scattered injured victims across various hospitals in the vicinity, receiving treatment for burns of varying degrees.

Another undisclosed source, shedding light on the cause, pointed to suspected oil thieves attempting to use mosquito coils, inadvertently sparking the inferno.

“The leakage stemmed from an outdated pipeline linked to an oil company operating in the region,” they disclosed.

In response, Emeka Ukwuosah, the chairman of the Niger Delta Youth Movement in the ONELGA chapter, condemned the illicit activities and urged the youth to pursue lawful endeavours.

“Let me join in condemning the illegal oil bunkering going on within ONELGA. 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 ageing facilities to forestall such incidents,” Ukwuosah emphasised.

Echoing this sentiment, Emeka Agbabere, the Assistant Secretary of the Onelga Security Peace Advisory Council, attributed the disaster to illegal oil bunkering.

Despite efforts by local authorities and directives from a community leader to halt such activities, the tragedy struck, claiming lives instantly and leaving several others hospitalised.

The aftermath serves as a poignant reminder of the risks associated with illegal oil tapping, urging both the youth and corporations to prioritise safety and lawful engagements to prevent such harrowing events in the future.