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Nigerian oil blast kills at least 80

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Nigerian oil blast kills at least 80

LAGOS – An explosion in an illegal oil refining plant in Southern Nigeria claimed at least 80 lives, according to the emergency services on Sunday.

The explosion occurred on Friday night at an illegal location between southern oil state of Rivers, and Imo. Police said.

” We found at most 80 severely burned bodies on the spot,” Ifeanyi Nnaji, of the National Emergency Management Agency, said to AFP. She also warned that death tolls could increase.

” We discovered many bodies in nearby forests and bushes as illegal operators and their clients rushed to safety. “

He said that many people suffered from “severe burns” and some of them later died at the hospital.

Nnaji stated that several burned vehicles and jerry cans were left behind from the theft of crude oil and other petroleum products.

Local media reported that more 100 persons, mostly young people were burned to their deaths.

Police said that the explosion occurred late Friday night at an illegal refinery, where the operators and patrons were gathered to do business. However they did not give any figures as to how many people died.

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

He stated that the explosion claimed “many lives, particularly those involved in illegal oil refining or bunkering”.

A NGO operating in Niger Delta, an oil-producing country that claims bodies of victims were found littering the ground said the number was unknown.

” Several bodies that were not immediately identifiable lay on the ground, while other victims who might have tried to flee for their safety can be seen hanging from tree branches,” stated Fyneface dumnamene (executive director Youths and Environmental Advocacy Centre).

Hundreds of illegal refineries

This is just the most recent incident in oil-rich Nigeria.

Pipeline fires are commonplace in Nigeria, in part because of poor maintenance but also because of thieves who vandalise pipelines to siphon off petrol and sell it on the black market.

Crude oil is extracted from major oil companies’ pipelines and processed in small tanks.

According to industry sources, Nigeria loses around 200,000 barrels of crude to oil thieves, vandals and illegal refining operators daily.

The majority of people living in the Niger Delta live in poverty despite the fact that the country produces around 2 million barrels per daily. Hundreds were killed by illegal refining and theft, locally known as bunkering.

The worst Nigerian pipeline explosion occurred in Jesse, in the southern part of Nigeria in October 1998,. It left more than 1 ,000 villager dead. The government deployed military personnel to attack and destroy illegal Niger Delta refineries as part of its efforts to curb theft.

But the government has failed to curb the illegal oil refineries that litter the Niger delta’s swamps, streams, and waterways, polluting the environment and causing pollution.

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