Explosion at Illegal Refinery Kills 25 in South-South Nigeria

Smoke rises from a blaze on May 15, 2008 in a northern suburb of Lagos following an explosion on an oil pipeline reportedly ruptured by a piece of earthmoving equipment. The fire has claimed the lives of at least ten people and injured 36 others said Abdulsalam Mohammed, a spokesman for the country’s national emergency agency at the scene. AFP PHOTO / STR (Photo by STRINGER / AFP)

A fire and explosion occurred at a crude oil refinery in Rivers State, Nigeria, killing at least 25 people, including minors, witnesses said on Sunday.

According to a community leader, Ifeanyi Omano, the incident happened in the early hours of Friday, and people from several communities were killed including minors.

Omano commented that “the casualties involved are very high. We are counting 25 bodies. We aren’t certain of their identities yet.”

It is common for locals in the oil-rich Delta region of Nigeria to tap pipelines to make fuel and sell it for a profit via illegal refining.

The practice, which can be as simple as boiling crude oil in drums to extract fuel, is dangerous.

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Nigeria is the largest oil exporter in Africa. According to officials, the country loses an average of 200,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil to people vandalizing pipelines – more than 10% of its output.

The theft and vandalism contribute to enormous pollution in the region.

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