Nigeria illegal oil refinery explosion kills 20

An explosion at an illegal oil refinery in Nigeria's Bayelsa State killed at least 20 people, authorities confirmed on Thursday.

The Police public relations officer, Mr Butswat Asinim, said many other people sustained injuries in the incident.

The residents of the Ogbia Local Government Area said the incident occurred on December 5, and has been under probe.

Fire outbreak

“There was a fire outbreak at an illegal bunkering camp at Ebelebiri and Otuegwe II community, few persons were feared to have been burnt to death while others sustained severe burns," said Mr Asinim.

“Three persons who survived the inferno were rushed to the Cottage Hospital Otuasiga for medical attention."

Mr Asinim further said that one of the injured confirmed there were more than 25 people at the refinery when the fire broke from a stove used for cooking.

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However, a resident near the illegal refinery camp in Kolo Creek, Mr Denis Obua, said that at least 20 corpses of people who perished in the inferno were recovered by the locals.

Mr Obua blamed the Joint Military Task Force (JTF) and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), charged with the responsibility of checking oil theft, for allowing the camp to thrive.

He said the police were attempting to play down the death toll and wondered why the security agencies were unwilling to raid the camps.

Burnt bodies

Mr Obua explained that the fire spread quickly, enveloping almost the entire camp.

“When we got there, I saw charred remains of people. They were burnt beyond recognition.

“Despite the burnt bodies, we still met people illegally prospecting for crude oil there. We thought that security agencies would have taken over the place,” Mr Obua said.

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