Refinery Blast At The Port Harcourt Refinery Jetty Claims 7 Lives.
A huge fireball and blast paralysed the activities of the Port Harcourt Refinery Jetty, Okrika LGA, Rivers State, on May 18, 2014, Sunday.
Seven persons feared dead the result of the incident, which has been allegedly caused by the activities of oil thieves and pipeline vandals.
According to a source of The PUNCH, the vandals attempted to get unauthorised access to one of the pipelines with an intention to steal oil products. An inferno was triggered by actions of the suspected thieves, leaving seven of them burnt to death, while several others were taken to a local hospital for treatment.
Okrika LGA Council Chairman, Tamunu Williams, confirmed the story, put the responsibility of the incident on both the vandals and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation for being negligent.
Both the police authorities and the National Emergency Management Agency in the state have also confirmed the explosion, but did not comment on the number of the deceased.
However, a spokesperson at the refinery, Mr Ralph Ugwu, debunked the statement of the Chairman, said the fire did not affect the order of operation at the refinery. He further noted that only the vandals were responsible for the fire and the blast.
However, the incident happened outside the jurisdiction of the refinery, therefore the company was not in position to name the number of victims.
It would be noted that oil bunkering and pipeline vandalism are among the major problems of Nigerian oil industry. These actions pave the way for fuel scarcity if we recall the crisis in March 2014, which affected nearly all the states of the country.
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