12 killed in pipeline fire in Nigeria's Delta region

12 killed in pipeline fire in Nigeria's Delta region

Accident occurred as people tried to steal crude near illegal refinery, police says

By Olanrewaju Kola

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (AA) - At least 12 people were killed Friday after a pipeline explosion and fire raged near an illegal oil refinery in Nigeria's Delta region, according to police.

Police spokeswoman Grace Iringe-Koko said the explosion occurred when people involved in bunkering activities attempted to steal crude from a pipeline in a remote Emuoha area in southern Rivers State.

“We are aware that there was an explosion relating to bunkering activities,” she told journalists.

She said 12 died as fire from the explosion raged.

But community members said casualties are higher than the number given by police.

"About 20 people, all youths, were killed in the incident even though our people could not go there due to security restrictions," Clement Kekemo told Anadolu from Port-Harcourt, the capital of Rivers State.

The explosion occurred when the driver of a bus loaded with crude, turned the engine on, said Kekemo.

"All of them in the bus and those loading the oil were burned," he said.

Oil theft and illegal refinery are common in Nigeria's Delta, said Yahaya Adebisi, a petroleum engineer in the area.

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