Nigerian Illegal Refinery Explosion Death Toll Rises to 110

Illegal Refinery Explosion Death Toll Rises to 110 (News Central TV)
People gather Saturday April 23, 2022 at the site of an explosion that took place the day before at an illegal oil refinery in Ohaji-Egbema local government area in Imo state, southeast Nigeria. At least 100 people are feared to have died in the explosion, authorities told The Associated Press, as the search for bodies at the site and for two people suspected of being involved in the incident intensified. (AP Photo)

The death toll from an explosion at an illegal oil refinery in southern Nigeria increased to 110 on Sunday, according to rescue services, as additional people died from their injuries.

The explosion occurred at a refinery located halfway between the southern oil states of Rivers and Imo.

“The death toll is now 110 from 80 as more people have succumbed to their injuries,” Ifeanyi Nnaji of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said.

On Sunday, News Central reported that scores of people 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 destroyed during the incident which sent waves of pandemonium across the community.

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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.”

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Meanwhile, President Buhari, who reacted to the unfortunate incident, described it as ‘catastrophe and a national disaster’, demanded an investigation into the blast.

The President, who condoled with victims of the incident, also assured them that those responsible for the illegal oil refinery will be caught and made to face the full wrath of the law.

Illegal refineries have remained a threat to the country’s ecology and economy, prompting government condemnation and crackdowns, particularly in the South-South.

The Nigerian Navy initiated an operation to address the menace earlier this month, following claims of extensive crude oil theft and the environmental impact of illegal refineries, as seen by the soot problem in Rivers State.

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The Navy announced last week that the operation, dubbed “Stop the Thief,” had been a success, with over N200 million worth of crude oil products captured from thieves in oil-producing regions in just two weeks.

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