Dozens were killed in an explosion at an illegal oil refinery in southeastern Nigeria. Government officials spoke to the Associated Press that at least fifty people were killed, but other sources put the death toll at more than a hundred. Many people were also injured.
A fire broke out at the Rivers State compound last night and quickly spread to two fuel depots. According to a local official, the compound was “engulfed by fire that quickly spread.” The bodies of the victims were so badly burned that they could not be recognized.
The cause of the explosion is still under investigation. The exact number of casualties and damages has yet to be determined. The authorities are looking for the owner of the illegal refinery and issued an arrest warrant.
200,000 barrels of oil per day
Illegal oil refineries are so widespread in Nigeria that they affect crude oil production in the oil-rich region around the Niger Delta. It is estimated that 200,000 barrels of oil are illegally exploited every day, which represents 10 percent of total production. Working in illegal refineries is a way out of poverty for many people, but fatal accidents happen regularly.
Nigeria is the largest producer of crude oil in Africa, but it has a few official oil refineries. As a result, most of the fuel is imported.
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