Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt
A pipeline explosion, which occurred in Kom-Kom community in Oyigbo Local Government Area, Rivers State, yesterday claimed no fewer than 10 lives.
In another account, the explosion only killed three in the community, though claimed the incident might claim more than three lives eventually.
A community source confirmed the incident to THISDAY yesterday, noting that the explosion occurred in the swampy area in a pipeline belonging to one of the multi-national oil companies operating in the Niger Delta.
Although the casualty from the accident is believed to be higher, the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Mr. Nnamdi Omoni (DSP) said only three deaths “have been so far confirmed in the incident.”
The cause of the explosion, which affected pipelines supplying crude oil to eastern states, could not be ascertained.
Nnamdi Omoni, the state command spokesperson, who confirmed the incident, said the villagers went there to scoop the product before it triggered the explosion. He said he could not ascertain the accurate casualty figure.
“The casualty rate is what we cannot ascertain for now. There has been speculation. We have not been able to get the accurate figure. In the next couple of hours, we will get that because our men are still there, including the area commander, to ensure that there won’t be breach of peace,” he said.
“We have been able to restore normalcy. It was unfortunate that when the pipeline caught fire, the villagers went there to scoop the product and in the process, the fire caught them. Moreover, we have been able to take some to the hospital.
“Engineers from Shell were there for a routine maintenance of the pipelines. So, they were lawfully there to carry out their duty. Unfortunately, by accident or design, there was an explosion, which we have put under control. The fire was put out, but the villagers in their quest to maximize the situation, some of them were consumed by the fire.”
On June 12, five persons were “seriously” injured after an explosion at a shopping mall in Port Harcourt, the state capital.