07 OctoberAt least five persons were reportedly burnt, when a vandalised pipeline belonging to the Pipelines and Products Marketing Company, PPMC, a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, exploded late Saturday afternoon in Adeje, near Warri, Delta State, as the workers carried out repairs on the damaged pipeline. Others also reportedly sustained light injuries.
Although, there were no confirmation of the number of casualties, four of the victims, who sustained serious burns were said to have been rushed to the state University Teaching Hospital (DELSUTH) Oghara, the administrative headquarters of Ethiope West Local Government Area of the state.
The pipeline was discovered to have been vandalised about a week earlier by oil thieves; and a team of oil workers, including engineers, were drafted to repair the damaged portion.
However, it was unclear why the explosion occurred and a large fire ignited, as supply of products through such vandalised pipelines were normally cut off when repair work was in progress.
Moreover, a statement from the PPMC was not forthcoming even as at yesterday afternoon. But a visit to the scene by THISDAY at about 5:30 p.m. on Saturday showed the fearsome flames and thick smoke rising high into the evening sky about 50 metres from the Warri-Benin Express Road near Adeje.
During the visit, the cause of the fire was not immediately ascertained as neither the NNPC officials and security personnel at the scene could offer any explanation on how the incident occurred.
Nonetheless, an army van belonging to the Niger Delta security outfit, the Joint Task Force (JTF) mounted with a machine gun and some armed soldiers were at the scene by the road near a clearing indicating the pipelined route.
The soldiers ensured that vehicles on the highway kept moving without stopping at the area and apparently to ensure that nobody who had no business in the area was allowed to go near the point of the fire and smoke bellowing into the sky.
One of the soldiers tried to stop our correspondent from taking photographs of the burning pipeline, but eventually mellowed down after painstaking explanation, including producing an identity card.
Two other vehicles, including an ambulance apparently belong to one of the subsidiaries of the NNPC were also parked at a safe distance from the raging fire, though about five men or officials were seen conversing at the scene of the fire.
Later at about 9 p.m. on Saturday, it was initially alleged by residents within the area that about a dozen workers of the PPMC made up of mainly engineers had been burnt during the explosion some severely. The information, however, threw light on reason for the presence of an ambulance and armed soldiers near the scene of the fire earlier in the evening.
Meanwhile, the fire was reportedly still raging at the time of filing this report Sunday evening.
– This Day