It was learnt by reporters that about 100 persons were burnt in the raging fire but Head of Operations of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Mr. Ifeanyi Nnaji, said from reports he got about the incident, “the casualty figure could not be more than 20.”
According to Fyneface Dumnamene, the Executive Director of Youths and Environmental Advocacy Centre (YEAC), who spoke about the incident with Vanguard, the incident may have occurred at Abacheka, Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area (ONELGA), Rivers state, but Police Public Relations Officer, Rivers Command, DSP Grace Iringe-Koko clarified that it is, “Not Rivers state, please. It is under Imo state jurisdiction.”
“Specifically, the explosion which also burnt several vehicles that were waiting to buy the illegal products is said to have occurred in a community in Egbama area called Abacheka.
“Several bodies burnt beyond recognition lay on the ground while others who may have attempted running for safety are seen hanging on some trees branches,” he said.
The Imo State Commissioner for Petroleum Resources, Goodluck Opiah, said that the operator of the illegal refinery, Okenze Onyenwoke, has been identified but currently at large.
He however said that the operator had been declared wanted by the police.
Egbema Youth predident Mr. Okenya Theadus Mario also confirmed the incident to Daily Trust in Owerri on Saturday.
He said that on visiting the scene of the incident, he saw charred remains of the refinery operators and their customers.
He said some of the burnt corpses had decomposed and were buried instantly.
The Imo State Police Command Public Relations Officer, CSP Mike Abatham, also confirmed the incident, describing it as unfortunate.