Over 100 people have died after an illegal refinery exploded at Abaezi forest in the Ohaji-Egbema Local Government Area of Imo State, Friday night.
Several vehicles were also burnt during the incident which sent waves of pandemonium across the community.
On Saturday morning, no fewer than 50 roasted bodies at the scene of the explosion have been identified. Others have been mangled and burnt beyond recognition.
Many of the oil bearing communities in Imo state have not known peace in recent times due to activities of illegal oil bunkerers,
incessant attacks by hoodlums and restive criminal elements who have made life unbearable for them. Many of the locals were said to have fled the communities to seek refuge in Owerri and its environs.
The state Commissioner for Petroleum Resources, Goodluck Opiah, told newsmen at the scene that the state government had declared the owner of the illegal refinery, Okenze Onyenwoke, wanted.
He advised the suspect whom he said was on the run to turn himself in at the nearest police station.
The commissioner said, “This is a sad development. The Imo State Government has declared wanted, Okenze Onyenwoke, who owns this illegal refinery. I advise him to hand himself over to the police or any security agency.
“This is wickedness. This is economic sabotage. It is also destroying our youths. I, therefore, call on the youths to go away from this kind of illegitimate business. There are so many legitimate businesses one could do to make genuine money.”
A resident in the community said, “Nobody survived the incident. Those who were rescued yesterday have all died this morning. The casualty figure is over 100…the unfortunate thing is that the victims were burnt beyond recognition.”
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