- The Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps confirmed the tragedy in a statement on Monday.
- Among the dead victims, according to the NSCDC, are a graduate and a lady whose wedding is billed for next month
A pregnant woman and a soon-to-be by bride were among those who perished in the explosion that hit an illegal refining site in Rivers state.
Within Nigeria had reported that an inferno engulfed the oil bunkering site in Ibaa community, Emuoha Local Government Area of the oil rich southern State.
The Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps confirmed the tragedy in a statement on Monday.
Among the dead victims, according to the NSCDC, are a graduate and a lady whose wedding is billed for next month.
According to the statement issued by the spokesperson of the NSCDC, Rivers State Command, Olufemi Ayodele, 18 persons died in the inferno.
Ayodele disclosed that 25 persons were rescued by operatives of NSCDC.
On the cause of the incident, he said preliminary investigations on the Sunday night inferno show that it was caused by a local refinery cooking pot constructed close to an oil reservoir that contained combustible materials.
He said the burning temperature eventually became too high and caused the fire.
The statement reads, “Thus, the fire disaster which occurred in Ibaa community is highly condemnable and uncalled for.
“There is a need for conscious effort and stronger collaborations with the traditional institutions, community youths, and religious leaders amongst others to fight against oil bunkering activities in our various communities and this begins with giving credible intelligence and information to the NSCDC, the lead agency in the fight against vandalism of oil pipelines and protection of critical national assets and infrastructures in Rivers State”.
“The state NSCDC Commandant, Basil Igwebueze, hinted that information gathered suffice that the fire incident started at a very late hour hence 18 victims were burnt beyond recognition while 25 injured persons were rescued.
“From our preliminary findings, it was gathered that the inferno was caused by a local refinery cooking pot constructed close to an oil reservoir which contained combustible materials, the burning temperature eventually became too high and the environment gutted fire.”
Continuing, he said, “We also gathered that the cooking pot belonged to one Mr. John Bodo who sustained severe fire injuries while his son, Uche Bodo, a fresh graduate, died on the spot.
“It is also lamentable to relay that most of the victims were youths; then a pregnant woman and a young lady getting ready for her marriage ceremony next month were all casualties.”
While condoling with the affected families; the NSCDC state helmsman warned against the activities of illegal local refineries in communities across the state.
Igwebueze further said such negative activities cause huge damage to the environment and ‘irreparable loss’.
“Therefore, critical stakeholders must align and vehemently fight against illegal oil bunkering activities in Rivers State,” he said