Home News Blast at Shell’s Nigeria oil pipeline kills 12 – police

Blast at Shell’s Nigeria oil pipeline kills 12 – police

by Business News Report

An explosion on a Nigerian oil pipeline owned by Shell killed at least 12 people, authorities at the scene said, while members of the affected community in Emohua said they feared many more had died in the blast. A spokesperson for Shell Petroleum Development (SPD) company of Nigeria Limited said a fire occurred on its Rumuekpe-Nkpoku Trunk Line in Rivers State and that it was working with authorities to put it out. Garuba Yabuku, civil defence spokesman for Emohua, in Rivers State, the heart of Africa’s biggest oil industry, said the incident was reported around 4:30 a.m.

“The pipeline was gutted by fire,” he said at the scene, where the fire was still blazing from the pipeline next to five burned out vehicles flanked by a palm forest. Many people got burnt inside the fire, males and females,” community leader Ogbonna Francis, a farmer, told Reuters at the scene. SPD said an investigation by a government-led joint team would commence to find the cause of the incident. Oil theft and pipeline sabotage are common in the southern oil production heartland of Nigeria. The methods used to steal oil often result in accidents that cause fires.

Fire had gutted a pit used by some persons in Ovelle-Nvakaohia village, Rumuekpe Community, Emohua Local Government Area of Rivers State for illegal oil bunkering activities and claimed many lives. Although, the Rivers State Police Command had noted while confirming the development that 12 people died, but a source in the community claimed that more than the number confirmed by the police in the state were involved. It was gathered that about five cars, four tricycle and some motorcycles used for transporting stolen crude oil were destroyed in the fire. 

A source in the community said that the vehicles were loaded with the stolen product packaged in sacks. The spokesperson of the Rivers State Police Command, Grace Iringe-Koko, a Superintendent of Police, had noted that the victims were scooping crude oil on the pipeline when fire ignited, adding that identities of the persons were yet unknown. She said “preliminary investigation by the Police Command indicates that the victims were scooping crude product when the site caught fire. So far, about 12 persons are believed to have been burnt to death. The identities of the victims are still unknown. Five vehicles, four Keke NAPEPs, and one motorcycle were all burned to ashes.

“Meanwhile, the Rivers State Commissioner of Police has again admonished members of the public to stay away from illegal oil bunkering.” A youth leader in the community, Uchechukwu Loveday said that more women died in the incident than men. Loveday said women were the ones used by oil thieves in sacking the crude oil into bags for transportation, adding that women have abandoned their farms to face the illegal dealing on petroleum product. 

He said those women were paid up to N10,000 at the end of every successful day, adding that is drum of crude oil kegged goes for N1000. He said “women are the ones that got burnt very well, because they are the ones doing the kegging. They pay them per drum they keg. One drum is one N1000. The selophyn they are using is eleven. It is the eleven that makes up one drum. So, all the women that were there doing the kegging were the mostly affected. Before women, don’t do this kind of work. Since illegal bunkering business came up, all the women got involved because they use to benefit. Some nights they make up to N10,000 in a day. About seven persons died inside the pit where they where scooping the crude. Many of them outside died while some are in the hospital.”

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