Over 100 youths have reportedly lost their lives in an illegal crude oil refining site at Abaezi forest, in Ohaji-Egbema Local Government Area of Imo State. About one hundred and fifty others suffered grave injuries.
Confirming the unfortunate incident, the State Commissioner for Petroleum Resources, Goodluck Opiah, who represented Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo State during his visit to the scene, said so many youths lost their lives due to the dire incident.
The commissioner said that the illegal refinery, Okenze Onyewoke, has been declared wanted by the government of Imo State.
He said: “At the moment, I can’t really confirm the number of the deceased because many family members have removed the corpses of so many others.
“Apart from this calamity, the act has destroyed the aquatic life of the community. Our people before now are predominantly farmers and fishermen.
“Look around, you’ll find smokes coming from this illegal act. If this is not enough for any person to stop, I think the community is heading for what I can’t describe.
“Most of the people who are engaging in this act are from Rivers, Bayelsa and other neighbouring states and it is sabotage for our people to allow this illegal act to continue.
An eye witness, Mr Eze Ikedi told Daily Post correspondent that the incident occurred around 11 pm last night.
According to him: “The fire was even entering the bush.
“we saw the people that were inside, no one was seen coming out.
“People were also scared going close the place but later when people got there, they found out it was over hundred persons that were burnt and one hundred and fifty others who sustained serious burns were rushed into the villages for treatment.”
He said that many of the victims were rejected at the village health centre.