Death toll from the explosion in Rumuekpe community, in Emohua Local Government Area of Rivers State has reportedly risen to 20.
had reported that an explosion from illegally refined petrol killed several persons in the Rivers community, leaving some severely injured and vehicles destroyed on Friday.
The Paramount Ruler of Rumuekpe Community, His Royal Highness, Eze Christian Evekwuru, who confirmed the death toll, blamed the incident on hunger and poverty in the land.
While commiserating with families who lost loved ones to the explosion, Eze Evekwuru recalled that since 1958 when oil exploration started in the area, oil multinationals operating in the community allegedly refused to employ the youths in the community.
The monarch claimed that the multinationals have failed to establish any industry to help their host community, but has rather, “cleverly avoided the community leaders and engaged some dubious characters of their choice as pipeline surveillance agents who in return easily sabotage them at will.”
He said despite being host community to four oil companies, there was nothing to show for it except incessant fire outbreaks and other calamities in the community.
The monarch added that all efforts to draw the attention of the Federal Government to their plight had proved abortive, in spite of their contribution to the nation’s economy.
The Rumuekpe Paramount Ruler also accused security agencies of having knowledge of the illegal refining activities going on in the area.
He further appealed to FG to collaborate with the oil companies and consider compensating the families of the dead victims.