In a tragic incident that unfolded on Sunday morning, at least 25 individuals lost their lives following an explosion at an illegal oil tapping site in Omoku, Ogba/Egebema/Ndoni Local Government Area of Rivers State. The catastrophe occurred when youths reportedly breached a pipeline belonging to a multinational oil company, utilizing jerrycans and buckets to extract fuel.
While the death toll stands at 25, numerous individuals sustained varying degrees of burns, undergoing treatment in various hospitals across the area. An anonymous source described the incident as “very terrible,” emphasizing the severity of the tragedy.
Reports suggest that the inferno was triggered by attempts by suspected oil thieves to ignite mosquito coils near the leakage from an obsolete pipeline belonging to one of the oil companies operating in the region.
Speaking on the matter, Emeka Ukwuosah, the chairman of the Niger Delta Youth Movement in the ONELGA chapter, condemned illegal oil bunkering and urged security agencies to intensify efforts to address the ongoing activities. Ukwuosah also called on multinational oil companies to upgrade their facilities to prevent such incidents.
The Assistant Secretary of the Onelga Security Peace Advisory Council, Emeka Agbabere, attributed the incident to illegal oil bunkering activities, despite efforts by vigilante groups and community leaders to discourage such practices. Agbabere expressed dismay at the tragic consequences, revealing that 19 individuals died instantly, with an additional 12 casualties recorded in two different hospitals.
The incident highlights the dangers associated with illegal oil tapping and emphasizes the need for robust measures to curtail such activities for the safety of communities in oil-rich regions.