By Samuel Oyadongha, Yenagoa
Three teenagers have reportedly died at an illegal refinery camp located between Ibelebiri and Otuegue 2 communities in Ogia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, following a gas explosion.
Several others were said to have suffered varying degrees of injury during the incident. The deceased were identified as Victory Friday, Endurance Glazio and James Abaye.
The incident, Vanguard learned occurred on Thursday at about 11 pm at the illegal refinery camp popularly known as Kpo-fire camp tucked away in the thickset of deep swamp.
The lads were said to be working at the usually risky venture when one of their colleagues providing security at the camp attempted to lit a cigarette which caused the explosion.
Saturday Vanguard recalled that no fewer than 50 persons were burnt to death in similar circumstances sometime last year at an illegal refining camp within the Ogbia axis of the state.
Incidentally, the area is host to one of the oil and gas logistics base owned by one of the oil majors with heavy military presence.
A community source who spoke anonymously said “the camp has been existing for about six years now. And it would surprise you to know that the camp is just by the Igbogene-Otuasega axis.
“There is a security post manned by police and after the camp, you have the Kolo Creek flow station which is also manned by soldiers yet these boys still operate freely.
“In fact, a day after the fire incident, the ones that escaped the fire went back to camp to continue cooking crude again when youths from Oruma community where one of the deceased comes from went there and stopped them.
“You know that in the process of refining, they only refine petroleum motor spirit, diesel and kerosene.
“Because their method of refining is crude, they leave a lot of gas in the air. So one of their colleagues providing security around the camp struck a match stick trying to lit a cigarette and the next thing was an explosion.”
When contacted, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Asinim Butswat, simply said there was “no report of such incident.”
Also attempts to reach the Public Relations Officer of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps(NSCDC), Solomon Ogbere for comments proved abortive as his mobile line was not going through.