At least 12 dead in Nigeria’s illegal refinery bombing

ABUJA, Nigeria — An explosion and fire near an illegal oil refinery in Nigeria’s Niger delta region killed at least 12 people on Friday, police said, but locals said much more. Reported high death toll.

An explosion in Em’Oha city council area in southern Rivers state occurred along a pipeline targeted by an illegal refiner who was trying to steal oil, state police spokesman Grace Iringe Koko said. rice field.

“Preliminary investigations by Police Command indicate that victims were scooping up crude oil when the site caught fire,” Iringe-Koko said.

Five cars, four auto-rickshaws and a motorcycle were “burnt down,” she said, adding that authorities were working to determine the death toll.

People in the area told the Associated Press that fires that raged for hours may have killed dozens, most of the victims siphoned oil from pipelines and illegally driven by at least five vehicles. He said he was a young man who was planning to transport the oil to a major refinery. .

Fyneface Dummamene, executive director of the Youth and Environmental Advocacy Center, said a spark from the exhaust pipe of a bus carrying a gallon of crude oil ignited the explosion as the driver was about to leave. Told.

“Everyone in about five cars had burns,” Dumnamene told the Associated Press.

Residents rushed to rescue some people at the scene, but the explosion was “so large that it shook our buildings,” said Isaac Amaech, who lives in the area.

Illegal refineries are a lucrative business for Nigeria, one of Africa’s top oil producers. They are more prevalent in the oil-rich Niger Delta region, where most of the country’s oil facilities are located.

Workers at such facilities rarely adhere to safety standards, leading to frequent fires, including one that killed more than 100 people in Imo State last year.

Nigeria lost at least $3 billion worth of oil to theft between January 2021 and February 2022. Shady operators often evade regulators by setting up refineries in remote locations like Imo, the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) last said. Year.

Chinedu Asadu