Nigeria oil blast: Police hunt illegal refinery owner after deadly explosion

Nigeria oil blast: Police hunt illegal refinery owner after deadly explosion

Nigerian police are looking for the owner of the illegal oil refinery where an explosion killed at least 100 people according to the authorities.

Dozens were thought to have been working at the refining plants in Imo state, southern Nigeria, when they were caught in the huge fire.

Many were burnt beyond recognition.

Poverty and unemployment have made illegal oil refining an attractive business for many residents of the oil-rich communities in southern Nigeria.

The death toll has risen as emergency workers go through the scene. Ifeanyi Nnaji of the National Emergency Management Agency told BBC Igbo that the number killed now stood at 109.

“We learnt many bodies are in nearby bushes and forests as some illegal operators and their patrons scampered for safety,” he earlier told the AFP news agency.

The authorities have been struggling to curb the proliferation of the illegal plants where stolen crude oil is refined.

It is not yet clear what caused the explosion that happened sometime overnight into Saturday, but accidents have been common in the past at similar dangerous sites where safety measures are not enforced.

There have been concerns over a lack of precautions at such facilities as well as environmental pollution.

But Nigeria’s official oil refineries do not work to capacity, causing frequent fuel shortages and price increases across the country.

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