It was a horrific to behold as lifeless bodies of residents and indigenes of Umu Nwankwo, Umuimo Njiko Umunna and Umuaduru communities in Osisioma Local Government Area of Abia State, off Enugu-Aba-Port Harcourt Expressway liter the scene where Petroleum Motor Spirit (PMS) pipeline explosions that occurred in the early hours of Friday.
The explosion, it was learnt occurred on an abandoned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation’s (NNPC) supplying PMS from Osisioma depot to Enugu and Kaduna which passes through Umuimo and Umuaduru respectively.
While unconfirmed reports have it that more than 50 persons including nursing mother, soldiers and other members of the community were burnt in the unfortunate incident, our reporter who visited the two sites counted about 10 corpses lying at the Umuaduru community PMS pipeline explosion.
But some of the early callers to the Umuaduru scene told our reporter that some members of the community who were able to identify their dead relation evacuated their dead ones before the arrival of security agencies at the scene.
At Umuimo, a source told our reporter that over six persons died in the community.
Some of the injured victims who sustained various degree of burnt were said to have been taken to an undisclosed hospital where they are currently receiving medical attention.
But a report that filtered in Aba at about 3pm has it that some of the victims died hours after they were brought to the hospital.
According to TheNation reporter, Chuks Benson Uzoije, a native of Umu Nwankwo of Umuimo in Njiko Umunna autonomous community, Osisioma, I am one of the Pipeline guards and I work with UTM Offshore Limited.
“As we were on duty around 8pm, we got information that there is leakage on the line. All the surveillance gathered and started calling the people that are in-charge from Port Harcourt to Kaduna.
“They told us that government is not doing anything with the old line; that the attention of government is on the new line. They said that government didn’t pay them to repair the two lines unless government wants them to renegotiate their terms of contracts. For over three years or there about, the old pipeline has been bad and it is long that they carried repair work on the old one.
“Instead of pumping through the line which they maintain, they now pumped through the abandoned line. Everywhere there was leakage, the vapour comes from there to cover the area and by 4am when the pipeline caught fire, it didn’t spare anything around including my house. Nothing was brought out of the house. The only thing that came out of the house is this cloth, rain boot and apron that I wore to work with, nothing else was saved.
“Property worth millions of naira was consumed in the inferno. My tenant and his family members sustained various degree of burnt.
“We tried all we could to ensure that no one took the advantage to go in and scoop fuel, but how we ended up having this damage is what I can’t explain. The Fire Service personnel came, but by the time they arrived, the deed had already been done.”
Another source who spoke in confidence to our reporter called for inquiry into the incident.