A heavy explosion at the Nigeria Gas Company pipeline, which crosses the Ugbokodo community near the Warri Refinery, caused chaos in the area, according to emerging reports.
The explosion occurred at 4:00 in the morning on Thursday, pushing residents to search for shelter as fires began spreading to homes. Some residents and children had not been found at the time of writing.
Local news source The Punch said leakages from the pipeline had caused the explosion. Local fire services put out the fires at 8:00 in the morning. No loss of life has been reported so far.
Residents say it was the NGC’s responsibility to fix the pipeline after a group of locals reported the leaks to the managing company’s Ekpan-Warri office.
Two other pipelines run by the same company had also ruptured, according to community members.
“After the explosion, many of our residents who fled into the bush for safety have not been found,” resident Kenneth Etioyibo said. “Some of them also sustained injuries from stampede that happened when everyone was scampering for safety. They have been taken for treatment.
Local businesses have been hurt by the incident as well:
“Our farms and fish boats were affected in the incident. We are appealing to the federal and state governments to wade into the issue,” he added. “Before [Thursday’s] explosion, we have written to NGC office here to intervene, but they didn’t listen to us. Now, see what their negligence has caused us.”
Problems with Nigeria’s pipelines are usually associated with attacks by militant groups in the Niger Delta. The militias urge Abuja to pay increased attention to the stunted human and socioeconomic growth in the area by attacking oil and gas facilities in the resource-rich area. The offenses have died down in recent months, though signs of unrest have reappeared as the presidential elections near.