MANY residents of Rivers State are feared dead following an explosion at an illegal crude oil refinery in the Emuohu Local Government Area (LGA).
The incident occurred in the early hours of Friday March 3, as a vehicle loaded with crude oil burst into flames while attempting to navigate the refinery, located in the Rumekpe community of the LGA.
While the number of casualties is still unclear, Police Public Relations Officer in the state Grace Iringe-Koko confirmed the incident to journalists on Friday.
“The Divisional Police Officer is already on his was to the scene,” she said.
Many lives have been lost due to illegal tapping and refining of crude oil in Nigeria.
In April 2022, at least 100 people died at an illegal crude oil refining depot located on the border between Rivers and Imo states.
Beyond causing several deaths in the past, air pollution, including the black soot plaguing residents of Rivers State, has been attributed to illegal oil refining.
Illegal crude refining also has adverse effects on Nigeria’s economy, as an estimated $4 billion is being lost yearly to the activity.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari had described the situation as a national disaster and vowed to intensify his administration’s clampdown on illegal tapping and refining of crude oil.