Over 100 Indigenes and non-indigenes of Ohaji-Egbema Local Government Area of Imo State have reportedly lost their lives in a Friday night fire that gutted a suspected illegal oil refinery at Abaezi Forrest.
Reports have it that about six vehicles including several motorbikes belonging to the bunkers were also burnt during the incident which lasted several hours Friday midnight that herald Saturday.
Charred bodies of the victims were said to have littered the community Saturday morning.
There were no immediate cause of the fire incident, but preliminary investigation has it that the fire incident was as a result of the activities of illegal bunkering activities in the area.
The state Commissioner for Petroleum Resources, Goodluck Opiah, told reporters at the crime scene that the state government had declared the owner of the illegal refinery, Okenze Onyenwoke, wanted.
He advised the suspect whom he said was on the run to surrender himself at the nearest police station.
The Commissioner said “this is a sad development. The Imo state government has declared wanted, Okenze Onyenwoke, who owes this illegal refinery. I advice him to hand himself over to the police or any security agency.
“This is wickedness. This is an economic sabotage. It is also destroying our youths. I therefore call on the Youths to go away from this kind of illegitimate business. There are so many legitimate businesses one could do to make genuine money.”
An Indigene of the community, who identified himself simply as Ejike said ” no single person survived. Those who were rescued yesterday have all died this morning. The casualty figure is over 100. This is said.
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“People are rushing to look for their relations but the unfortunate thing is that the victims were burnt beyond recognition.”