Accidents Health and Safety Politics

Death toll in Imo explosion rise to 110 — NEMA

NEMA confirms 9 dead, 10 injured in Kano gas explosion
Written by Maritime First

Rep. Uju-Chima renews call for artisanal refineries***

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has disclosed that the death toll in  Sunday’s illegal refinery explosion in Abaeze community Ohaji/Egbema Local Government of Imo had risen to 110.

The acting Head of the Imo/Abia Operations Office of the agency, Mr Ifeanyi Nnaji, disclosed this to the newsmen on Monday.

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Nnaji said more dead bodies were recovered in Orashi River, near the scene of the incident on Sunday, while some died at various hospitals to increase the total casualty figure so far.

Newsmen report that an illegal refinery situated at the Abaeze forest in Ohaji/Egbema Local Government exploded on Saturday and killed no fewer than 100 people.

Emergency workers in Imo led by Nnaji had been on the ground since the incident to carry out rescue operations and evacuate dead bodies.

The NEMA boss further disclosed to newsmen that arrangements were on to carry out the mass burial of the corpses.

When asked about the cause of the disaster, Nnaji said “we are yet to ascertain what led to the fire disaster.

“Those who should tell the story and give insight to the incident are all dead, we are still on the ground, we will soon come out with a report on the incident”, he said.

Nnaji further appealed to the government to create the enabling environment for genuine business to flourish within the oil-producing communities in Imo, to discourage youths from engaging in illegal activities.

He also appealed to oil companies in the area to assist the government in job creation for their host communities.

In the meantime, Rep. Kingsley Uju-Chima (APC – Imo) has renewed calls for the integration of artisanal refineries into the country’s refining regulations of the oil and gas industry.

Uju-Chima representing Ohaji/Egbema, Oguta, and Oru Federal Constituency said the proposed artisanal refinery was a possible permanent solution to the menace associated with illegal oil bunkering.

The lawmaker made the call on Sunday following a visit to the site of Friday’s fire incident that killed over 100 people at an illegal bunkering site in his constituency.

He said: “It is a national disaster which has put the entire community, local government area and constituency into a mourning mood. No amount of words will compensate for the situation I have seen here today.

“We have had a lot of bills and motions at the National Assembly in the past and I have seen the reason why we should take this more seriously.

I have seen the reason why as Nigerians and people of oil-producing areas, we should have collaborative efforts to curb this menace of oil bunkering.

“Some time ago, I proposed artisanal refinery as a possible permanent solution to this menace.

“I know in the western world, they have grade A, grade B and grade C fuel, so if this illegal business could continue unabated despite security agents within this place, then we will try to see from the legislative sector whether we can have depots and artisanal refineries to put a permanent stop to this menace,” he added.

He called for a round table discussion among oil companies, community and religious leaders, youths and other stakeholders on the way forward.

Uju-Chima, who also expressed worry that 48 hours after the incident, many unclaimed corpses still littered the area, called on the state government to evacuate the corpses and as well fumigate the environment.

“We must as a matter of urgency evacuate these corpses so that the people alive will not be affected by the health hazard these decomposing bodies pose.

“I am really pained and do not know why our people should be killed in this form because this is not our traditional means of livelihood.

We have always survived through farming and fishing,” he added.

The lawmaker, who later addressed some women from the area, urged them to help reorientate the mindset of the youth against dependence on illegal oil bunkering.

“I know that with adequate empowerment and encouragement in genuine oil and gas businesses and MSMEs, no youth will want to live in the bush for survival,” he said.


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