A horrific explosion at an illegal oil refining depot on the border of Nigeria's Rivers and Imo states has led to the deaths of over 100 people. These individuals were burned beyond recognition.
The bunkering site was in the Ohaji-Egbema local government area of Imo state in the Abaezi forest that straddles the border of the two states.
In the wake of extreme poverty and unemployment in the Niger Delta a sizable number of the local population has turned to illegal pipeline tapping and crude oil refining for a living.
According to The Guardian, "the hazardous process has led to many fatal accidents and has polluted a region already blighted by oil spills in farmland, creeks and lagoons."
Nigerian government officials estimate that some 200,000 bpd of crude oil are stolen -- this amounts to more than 10 % of overall production. The illegal refining of crude oil without environmental controls has confounded government officials for decades in Nigeria.
“The Rivers state governor has made a push recently to stamp out illegal refining in Rivers so it has to move to the fringes and neighbouring states. In the last month or two, there were several raids and some security agents involved were tackled,” Ledum Mitee, former president of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (Mosop), said.
In February, local authorities said they had started a crackdown to try put a stop to the refining of stolen crude, but with little apparent success.