At least a hundred people have died in the night from Friday to Saturday due to a explosion occurred in an illegal hydrocarbon refinery located in the Abaezi Forest, Ohaji-Egbemna, Imo State, in the South of Nigeria.
The explosion has also destroyed six vehicles and has caused widespread panic in the area, according to the Nigerian newspaper ‘Punch’ in its digital edition. Another 150 people were reportedly injured.according to sources in the Nigerian newspaper ‘Daily Post’.
The director of the Youth and Environmental Defense Center (YEAC, for its acronym in English), Fyneface Dumnamene, explained to the newspaper ‘Vanguard’ that it was his organization that sounded the alarm early on Saturday through the program Network of One Million Youth Volunteers and Human Rights Defenders in the Niger Delta.
“The explosion has burned several vehicles waiting to buy illegal products“, Dumnamene explained. “There are unrecognizable charred bodies on the ground and others who tried to run away have been left hanging from tree branches,” he assured.
A special envoy from ‘Punch’ visited the place this Saturday and assured that has seen no less than 50 charred corpses to the point of being unrecognizable. The commissioner of Petroleum Resources of the state of Imo, Goodluck Opiah, has indicated that “at the moment I cannot confirm the death toll because many relatives have taken many bodies.”
In addition, he explained that the regional government has declared the search and capture of the owner of the illegal refinery, whom he has identified as Okenze Onyenwoke. “This is a very sad development. The Imo state government has declared in search and capture Okenze Onyenwoke, owner of this illegal refinery. I recommend that you turn yourself in to the Police,” he said. “This is cruelty. It is economic sabotage. It is also destroying our young people. I ask young people to stay away from this kind of illegal business. There are a lot of legal businesses where you can make money,” she argued.
In addition, Onyenwoke has highlighted that “in addition to this calamity”, the incident “has destroyed aquatic life community” and recalled that most people work in agriculture and fishing.
A neighbor, Ejike, has lamented that “no one has survived“. “Those who were rescued yesterday have died this morning. The death toll exceeds one hundred. It’s sad. There are people pressed looking for their relatives, but the sad thing is that the victims were burned and are unrecognizable”, he explained in statements to ‘Punch’.
Another witness quoted by the ‘Daily Post’ explained that “there were people who were approaching”. “They found more than a hundred burnt people and 150 severely burned people were rushed to the villages for treatment,” he reported. Many of them were rejected at the health center of his village.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.