Not less than seven persons were feared dead and scores of others severely injured in an explosion caused by petrol at the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) jetty, Okrika, Rivers State sunday. There was however no official confirmation of casualty figures as at press time as officials of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said they were yet to get the figures. However, the Chairman of Okrika Local Government Area, Tamuno Williams, who confirmed the incident, said the fire broke out when pipeline vandals were siphoning petroleum products from the pipelines belonging to the NNPC at a jetty near Okrika.
According to Williams, “The fire incident is as a result of oil thieves who were siphoning oil from NNPC pipelines. As you can see, there is no management staff of the NNPC or persons you can say are in-charge of the corporation’s operations here. The gates of the NNPC remain closed to visitors, so, we have not seen anybody that we can officially complain to. SEE MORE AFTER CUT>>>>>>>>>
When the officials of the NNPC who are in-charge here will be on ground. The number of casualties cannot be properly ascertained as I speak due to the nature of the terrain, within and around the jetty. “Those who survived were said to have been severely burnt. A lot of things are shrouded in secrecy. We have seen the fire but the NNPC has not given us permission to go in and verify the enormity of the damage. The security there is intensive, yet no NNPC staff wants to speak with us.
“Since they are not ready to go, we chose to go there ourselves. There are, indeed, casualties but the number of casualties we cannot really confirm. We have been to the creek and we saw the pipelines connections.”
Williams appealed to the management of the NNPC to provide adequate protection and security for their pipelines and equipment to protect the lives of the people of Okrika.
“From what we saw, there is negligence on the part of the NNPC in the maintenance of their equipment. Their equipment and pipes are in a state of disrepair. NNPC should take time to invest in the maintenance of their equipment,” he said.
But sources in the area said not less than seven persons were dead in the early morning explosion.
They said those injured suffered severe burns and had been taken to undisclosed hospitals for treatment. When contacted, the South-south Zonal Coordinator of NEMA, Mr. Emenike Umesi, confirmed the incident but said the casualty figures would be made available later in the day. He, however, said he was not aware of any death from the incident.