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35 roasted to death in Rivers illegal refinery

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35 roasted to death in Rivers illegal refinery

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About 35 persons have been burnt to death by fire that engulfed a site of an illegal oil refinery in Rivers State.

It was gathered that the tragedy occurred at Ibaa Community, Emohua Local Government Area of the state.

The fire was said to have broken out late Sunday night when over 45 persons were gathered at the time to transact illegal oil business.

A source from the community, who spoke in confidence, said some of his cousins and a wife to one of them died in the incident.

“My community has been thrown into mourning. My cousins and a wife to one of my cousins went there too for some business but died,” he said

Another source, Emmanuel Daniel, said the victims went to the area to trade on the petroleum product when the engulfed the site.

Daniel said that people from Isiokpo Kingdom in Ikwerre Local Government Area, Ibaa and Oduoha in Emohua LGA, were affected by the fire.

Daniel said: “More than 40 people were there at the site. They were there scooping and bagging crude oil when fire caught up with them

“The fire came from a refining site that is close to the point where they were bagging the crude.

“Many Isiokpo and Oduoha people, and Ibaa people were there. Seven of the people died inside the pit where they were scooping the crude. About 10 burnt to charcoal by the pit.

“About 30 people died at the site while over 15 have been rushed to the hospital. I hear that three of them have died while they were being rushed to the hospital.”

A video showed charred remains of children, men and women, who were victims of the incident, littering the scene of the incident.

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Confirming the incident, the Chairman of Emuoha Local Government Area, Chidi Lloyd, said it was unfortunate that some youths were still engaging in the illicit trade despite warnings and public advocacy.

Lloyd appealed to traditional rulers in the area to speak out about and discourage such criminal activities within their domains.

He said: “It is unfortunate that people who have been misguided would lose their lives in that kind of dastardly manner in Ibaa.

“We have said this for the umpteenth time and anybody who is in Rivers State will bear me witness thet there cannot be any short cut to wealth.

“I also have said to traditional rulers that they have a duty. It is not just to be given recognition, that they have a duty to expose criminal elements within their neighbourhood. “

The council chair identified Oblle, Rukuni and Ndele as the other communities where illegal oil refining activities had persisted despite warnings.

He added: “This same activity is currently going on in Rukuni, going on in Ndele. It is going on in Obelle and for All these I have raised the alarm to security agencues.

“It is not as if the security agent or agencies are not aware of what is going on. I have always ask a simple question how do these people transport this crude?

“There is an army formation in Ibaa. In fact, there they even fenced up the road. So how do these people move?”

(The Nation)