Over 100 persons may have been burnt beyond recognition from the explosion on the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, petroleum pipeline facility in Konkon community in Oyigbo local government area of Rivers State on Saturday, it has been gathered.
Residents of the area have raised alarm over the humanitarian disaster due to the fast decomposing bodies, stench and pollution of the swamp and the environment.
A visit to the area on Sunday revealed that the number of human casualties grew because villagers rushed out to the swamp to scoop refined petroleum product suspected to Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, (petrol) gushing out from the ruptured NNPC pipeline.
Among those believed to have been consumed in the inferno from the pipeline fire were palm wine tappers and some local brewers of Ethanol who were in the swamp for to tap wine.
Villagers are claiming that over 100 persons may have trapped in the inferno as there was a free-for-all scramble for leaking petroleum products by some members of the local community before the explosion.
A villager who gave his as Ogechi Nnamdi said, “Nobody at the scene of the explosion survived.
“People were rushing to leakage site to scoop free fuel, but suddenly, we heard an explosion. At least, I saw about 20 dead bodies. 11 had been carried away. And more are in the swamp yet to be recovered. And it is difficult getting inside the swamp”..
He appealed to government to come to the aid of the community and decontaminate the area to avoid contamination and infection of people living the area.
Traumatic villagers who were in mournful mood were seen recovering the charred bodies from the swamp and burying them in in mass graves.
Most of volunteers recovering the dead were not putting on safety medical gears to prevent infections from the fast decomposing bodies.
There we’re no presence of Emergency Agencies either at from the Oyigbo local government, State or Federal levels at the time of the visit.
Our correspondent also noted the pungent smell of stench oozing out from the environment.
Meanwhile, Promise Chibuzo Nwankwo, the House Of Assembly member representing the people of Oyigbo Local Government Area in the Rivers State House Of Assembly has expressed his heartfelt sympathy and condolences to the families of victims of the disaster.
He, however, condemned the activities of oil thieves and the thriving business of illegal bunkering in Oyigbo.
According to the lawmaker, ”In the early hours of today Saturday, 22nd June 2019, around 8:25 am there was an incident of fire outbreak in Oyigbo Local Government Area.
“The fire outbreak which occurred in the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation(NNPC) facility somewhere around Canaan Land Hospital, Izuoma Axis of Oyigbo local government area is as a result of oil bunkering.
“Until now the number of people injured are unconfirmed, but it is confirmed that scores of person’s were recorded dead.”
He also urged his constituents to desist from vandalization of oil facilities as it could be very dangerous and harmful.