Over 25 bodies were said to have burnt to ashes after a tanker suspected to be used by oil bunkers exploded in the forest of Obitti, Ohaji/Egbema Local Government Area of Imo State.
It was gathered that the tragedy occurred Tuesday at the place described as Ndorama pipeline right of way in the Obitti rubber estate of Ohaji/Egbema council of the state.
At press time, relatives of the victims gave different versions of what caused the explosion.
Some said there was exchange of gunfire between two groups trying to claim dominance of the area of the oil bunkering business. Others believed that leaders in charge of oil bunkering business planned the attack that led to the explosion.
While a community leader, who did not want his name mentioned, alleged that the victims trespassed the territory of the ilegal bunkering location said to be under the control of a kingpin, also said to be a politician.
According to a video by the eyewitness, he said: “Vandals came to vandalise pipeline right of way. This place is called Ndorama pipeline right of way. They drove to the place in a tanker suspected to be used for the illegal bunkering. They dug deep into the ground, located the pipeline and from where they tapped from and emptied the oil into a tanker parked inside the bush.
“They used long hoses connected it to the pipe but unfortunately, luck ran out of them. It exploded and killed many of them. You can see some of them burnt to ashes. Some of them, their bodies are still burning. The tanker was still burning.”
Reacting, the Imo State Police Public Relations Officer, Henry Okoye said the command had set up a high-power investigation team to move in and unearth the immediate cause of the incident, as well as arrest the persons involved.