President Muhammadu Buhari has condoled with the people and government of Rivers State following the death of some workers in a gas pipeline tragedy in the state.
The president, in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu in Abuja, last Saturday, also condoled with the families of the victims.
Buhari said he was extremely pained by the loss of lives as a result of the incident.
He, therefore, asked for “a thorough investigation to determine what is responsible for the gas pipeline tragedy in Oyigbo Local Government Area of Rivers State in which several fatalities were reported”.
The gas tragedy reportedly occurred at Kom Kom community of Oyigbo Local Government Area, last Saturday, when workers were fixing a faulty section of the pipeline.
Similarly, the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Uche Secondus has condoled with the people of Kom Kom in Oyigbo Local Government Area of Rivers State over the loss of lives following the gas pipeline explosion which killed dozens of citizens in the area.
In a statement signed by his spokesman, Ike Abonyi, in Abuja, yesterday, Secondus said, “Our hearts are with you at this trying time”.
Secondus lamented the incessant hazard the people of the Niger Delta were facing due to the neglect and insensitivity of the Federal Government to listen to the cries of the people.
He also commiserated with victims of the senseless killings in Zamfara and other states in North-West and North-East zones.
The opposition leader charged the relevant authorities, including the oil and gas companies to show some sensitivity to the plight of the people of the Niger Delta on the hazards they were exposed to as a result of exploration of their God-given natural resources in their area.
Meanwhile, no fewer than 10 persons have reportedly lost their lives in the pipeline explosion that occurred in Rivers State, last Saturday.
The Tide learnt that the oil facility was installed by the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and to supply gas feedstock to the Afam Gas Plant and the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) facility in Bonny Island.
But, Shell spokesman, Bamidele Odugbesan, told newsmen, last Saturday, that there was no record of any explosion on SPDC facility in Oyigbo.
A resident of the area, Jude Nwanma, said residents of Izuoma, where the incident occurred, woke up to a thunderous explosion from a pipeline that criss-crossed the area.
Nwanma said more than 10 persons might have lost their lives in the explosion.
He said the explosion caused pandemonium in the area just as residents scampered for safety.
“It was later I learned that the explosion occurred in one of the pipelines I suspect to be petrol pipeline, and that more than 10 persons lost their lives in the incident,” he said.
Another eyewitness said, “We were just waking up when we heard a very loud sound. We knew it was an explosion but did not know the kind of explosion. We later traced the tick smoke to the gas pipeline.”
The Chairman of Oyigbo Local Government Area, Hon Gerald Oforji, who confirmed the story, said that 10 persons died in the explosion.
Oforji said the bodies of the victims were recovered from the scene when the fire was put off, but added that most of the dead may not be easily identified as their bodies have been burnt beyond recognition.
He also confirmed that no house was destroyed when the explosion occurred.
The Rivers State Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Nnamdi Omoni, also has confirmed the incident.
Omoni claimed that the incident happened when officials of Shell Petroleum Development Company, were carrying out routine maintenance of the facility in Kom Kom.
He could not confirm exact casualty figure, but added that the fire has been put out, and that normalcy has returned to the scene of the incident.
“Shell was carrying out maintenance on the pipeline when the explosion happened. Our findings indicate that some members of the community rushed to the scene to scoop the product when the explosion happened.
“I can’t tell you how many people were burnt but it was not a good sight. Our men are still at the scene,” he added.
But The Tide’s investigation reveals that no hydrocarbon could be scooped from any pipeline when there is a gas leak or explosion, as gas is a highly flammable substance.