The pipeline explosions in Abia State on Friday that caused the death of at least 16 people may have been caused by oil thieves, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) said on Friday.
PREMIUM TIMES reported the fire in Osisioma Local Government Area of the Abia State.
The Abia commander of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, Benito Eze, told journalists in Umuahia, the state capital, that 16 persons died from the pipeline fire.
Mr Eze said 16 persons, including one woman, died in the explosion that occurred around 2.47 a.m. at Umuaduru Village in Umueze Autonomous Community.
He also said three others died in a separate domestic fire that occurred at about 3 a.m. in a private residence at Umuimo Village in the same local goverment.
The NNPC in a statement by its spokesperson, Udu Ughamadu, said the pipeline fire outbreak occurred “along the Osisioma axis near Aba Depot in its System 2E pipeline network.”
The corporation said the incident might have been caused by “suspected oil thieves” who had hacked into the line to intercept flow of petrol from Port Harcourt to Aba.
The official confirmed fatalities and loss of properties in the inferno but did not provide any specific number.
Mr Ughamadu said the corporation’s safety experts, along with officials of the Abia State Fire Service, had swung into action to contain the situation, saying updates on the situation would be provided as events unfold.
The NNPC Group Managing Director, Maikanti Baru, expressed shock at the destruction of lives and properties occasioned by the incident.