A pipeline explosion which rocked Umuimo Njiko Umunna and Umuaduru communities in Osisioma Local Government Area of Abia State, off Enugu-Aba-Port Harcourt Expressway, reportedly left many people dead.
The pipeline explosion occurred on an abandoned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation’s (NNPC) supplying PMS from Osisioma depot to Enugu and Kaduna which passes through Umuimo and Umuaduru respectively.
An unconfirmed report claimed that 50 persons including nursing mother, soldiers and other members of the community were burnt in the unfortunate incident, however The Nation’s correspondent who visited the two sites counted about 10 corpses lying at the Umuaduru community PMS pipeline explosion.
Chuks Benson Uzoije, a native of Umu Nwankwo of Umuimo in Njiko Umunna autonomous community, Osisioma in Aba said;
“I am one of the Pipeline guards and I work with UTM Offshore Limited.
“As we were on duty around 8pm, we got information that there is leakage on the line. All the surveillance gathered and started calling the people that are in-charge from Port Harcourt to Kaduna.
“They told us that government is not doing anything with the old line; that the attention of government is on the new line. They said that government didn’t pay them to repair the two lines unless government wants them to renegotiate their terms of contracts. For over three years or there about, the old pipeline has been bad and it is long that they carried repair work on the old one.
“Instead of pumping through the line which they maintain, they now pumped through the abandoned line. Everywhere there was leakage, the vapour comes from there to cover the area and by 4am when the pipeline caught fire, it didn’t spare anything around including my house. Nothing was brought out of the house. The only thing that came out of the house is this cloth, rain boot and apron that I wore to work with, nothing else was saved.
“Property worth millions of naira was consumed in the inferno. My tenant and his family members sustained various degree of burnt.
“We tried all we could to ensure that no one took the advantage to go in and scoop fuel, but how we ended up having this damage is what I can’t explain. The Fire Service personnel came, but by the time they arrived, the deed had already been done.”
The Abia commander of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, Benito Eze, however 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.
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.