In a devastating incident, an explosion at an unauthorized oil refining site in Ibas Community, Emuoha Local Government Area of Rivers State, has left around 35 individuals feared dead.
The incident unfolded late on a Sunday night when a group of over 40 people from the community were engaged in the risky activity of collecting petroleum product from the site. According to Emmanuel, a reliable source in the community, the victims were in the process of selling the product when an unexpected fire broke out, engulfing the entire area.
The impact of the explosion reached beyond Ibas Community, affecting people from neighboring areas such as Isiokpo in Ikwerre Local Government Area, as well as Ibaa and Oduoha in Emohua LGA.
Emmanuel recounted the tragic event, stating, “More than 40 people were at the site, scooping and packaging crude oil when the place caught fire. The fire originated from a refining site in close proximity to where they were packaging the crude. Seven individuals lost their lives inside the pit where they were collecting the crude, while approximately 10 were charred by the pit.”
He added, “Around 30 people lost their lives at the site, and over 15 have been hurried to the hospital. Reports suggest that three of them succumbed to their injuries while en route to the hospital.”
Despite attempts to gather information, the spokesperson for the State Police Command, Grace Iringe-Koko, had not responded to inquiries as of the filing of this report on Monday evening. This tragic event underscores the dangers associated with illegal oil refining activities, urging authorities to address and curb such practices to prevent further loss of life and property.